The more I thought about this one, the hokier it got - what's your take? (Originally reviewed for DVDsnapshot)
Adam is an amateur motorcyclist with less than a month's experience under his belt. Therefore, it makes perfect sense he should tackle an over 1200 mile trip through the Himalayas on a single-cylinder, 350cc street bike. There are accidents and altitude sickness to contend with. Will the guardian angels of the ignorant idiot protect him? What could possibly possess someone to think that's a good idea?
Murky motivations aside, The Highest Pass is presented as the story of a group seeking enlightenment by taking an incredibly dangerous, self-indulgent motorcycle trek on the world's highest and most dangerous roads; all under the guise of a “spiritual journey.” Considering there's a film crew and hired snowplow, they sure come off like “entitled yahoos with money getting irresponsibly out of their element.”
It's hard to be open to someone's story when (from, yes, perhaps a place of Western cynicism) you start by questioning why they so badly need an external validation of their spirituality from someone with the “other culture” seal of approval, in this case Eastern. The wisdom everyone attributes to poor Guru Anand, supposedly cursed with a prophesy of an early death, looks like nothing so much as bad judgment to the viewer. Yet once you invest in the idea that you're going to attain enlightenment, everything must be channeled through that lens. The riders almost fetishize this guru, who boasts a vanity practice named Sattva Yoga and YouTube videos (that underline how much the impression a documentary subject makes is through good editing), along with every elderly non-English-speaker they encounter.