'The Fourth Noble Truth': Film Review

Courtesy of DKZ Films
"Siddhartha" it's not

Harry Hamlin plays an actor with anger management issues who attempts to seduce his sexy meditation instructor.

It may not qualify as a noble truth, but director-screenwriter Gary T. McDonald's film demonstrates that the best way to get a skeptic interested in the tenets of Buddhism is to have him receive instruction from a female meditation teacher who's really, really hot. Purporting to be an illustration of the Buddha's Eightfold Path, The Fourth Noble Truth instead mainly offers the spectacle of Harry Hamlin trying to get laid for nearly 90 minutes.

The still ruggedly handsome actor plays Aaron, an action movie star whose anger management issues—illustrated by an opening scene of him attacking a car with a golf club—have resulted in his being ordered by a judge to take lessons in mindfulness … only in California, folks.

Fortunately for Aaron, his teacher turns out to be the sexy Rachel (Kristen Kerr), who he first spots coming naked out of her shower. The sexual tension between the two is immediately palpable, with her gushingly declaring that she's a longtime fan. Later that night, she masturbates to a DVD of one of his movies.

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At first, the hedonistic, self-indulgent Aaron has little use for her lessons, but hey, a man's got to do what he's got to do, especially when it's court-ordered and he's able to take advantage of the opportunity to get inside his teacher's pants. Rachel, an out-of-work actress who admits that she hasn't dated for three years, at first rebuffs his advances, even when he performs such favors as getting her a tiny speaking role in his current film so she can qualify for health insurance. She's playing a hooker, providing yet another opportunity to see the comely Kerr in a sexy outfit. Bizarrely, Rachel doesn't accept payment for her teaching services, but happily accepts "gifts."

Divided into chapters according to the Buddhist Eightfold Path ("Right Concentration," "Right Effort," etc.), the film essentially consists of an endless series of circular conversations that give it the feel of a two-character play. We periodically hear the sound of a bowl being rung, further emphasizing the faux-spiritual nature of the proceedings.

It all plays like a sexed-up primer on Buddhist principles — the main characters do eventually get it on, when she reacts sympathetically to the news that his dog has died — and as, such, it's certainly user-friendly, with both performers very effective in their schematic roles. But it's hard not to think that this really wasn't what the Buddha had in mind.

Production: DKZ Films
Cast: Harry Hamlin, Kirsten Kerr, Richard Portnow
Director/screenwriter: Gary T. McDonald
Producers: David Kohner Zuckerman, Jillian Stein, Jim Whelehan
Executive producers: Rick Ramnath, Scott Weston, Harry Hamlin, Steven Jensen, Georges Salo, Ann McGuire, Bill Goldstein, Scott Weston
Directors of photography: Bert Guthrie, James Jansen
Production designer: Caity Birmingham
Editor: Betsy Comstock
Costume designer: Kresta Lins
Composer: Pete Kneser
Casting: Scott David

Not rated, 87 minutes