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Among the most memorable things about Megane are an empty white beach, a luminous turquoise sea, and a verdant country road. Descending on this paradise, Taeko, a buttoned-up, bespectacled woman dragging a very large suitcase, checks into a tiny seaside inn. Expecting to be left alone, she’s put off when the hotel’s proprietor, Yuji, sits down to eat with her. She’s even more disgruntled when Sakura, a placid, revered older woman, takes the liberty of entering Taeko’s room to wake her up! But seeking haven at another hotel proves farcical, and Taeko sheepishly returns to her unconventional hosts. Relieved, she gradually tunes into their simple community and cultivates what Yuji calls “the talent to be here.”

There’s a lot of talk about the “visceral power of film.” But Megane takes a step further, manifesting a process whereby the viewer can partake in the characters’ peace. As Yuji and Sakura prepare exquisite meals and practice playful exercises on the sand, we, like Taeko, begin to yield to their pace and absorb their benevolence. As all engage in “twilighting,” a pastime involving staring into space, we, too, find that our breathing deepens, our gaze relaxes. Watching Megane becomes a meditation.

A soulful journey rife with subtle “aha” moments, Megane is minimalist and quiet but never didactic or serious. Like a good Buddhist teacher, its unexpected humor delights and thaws us.

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