Right up front, I'm a political/social conservative who is okay with marijuana and gay marriage. This may have prejudiced this review a bit.
First, this is a beautiful movie of self-discovery. And, I do mean self- discovery. There really wasn't a single concept discussed that hasn't been discussed since I was in high school and I'm 70 years old. Actually, these concepts have probably been discussed for the past 5,000 years or more.
However, if you want to experience a man living through his moment of "enlightenment," this movie will give you that. Essentially, he discovers that happiness doesn't come from material things, but from being involved in something bigger than himself, something that makes a difference.
He's very careful to state that you don't need to make a big difference to gain a sense of worth and happiness, even the small, little things make a difference. He supports these concepts with some relatively recent scientific research, that points to the power of matters of the heart and the impact our negative and positive thoughts can have on ourselves as well as others; in fact, the environment around us. As I said earlier, toss out the research and you're left with what philosophers and mystics have been telling us for ages.
One of the major themes sounded very socialistic (this was the political part) , pretty much: From those who have too much, to those who have too little. This is, of course, a common theme amongst progressives (redistribution of wealth). However, something he hinted at was a bit different. He seemed to say that this had to come from the heart, from a personal commitment to help others, to help the community. I would agree and add, that this means that it can't be instigated by any government, you can't order people to love their neighbor. Nothing good comes from trying to do that.
The big disappointment for me, was the lack of any discussion concerning what I consider to be the two most important questions that this line of thought must deal with.
1) What do you do about those who decide to take full advantage of the situation and choose only to take and not to give? In other words, live off of the efforts of others.
2) What do you do about those who decide to manipulate the system to their own personal advantage, both from the financial and the position of power perspectives?
This type of society leaves itself wide open to that, without a very strong central government that makes sure that things stay fair. However, usually those in the government are the ones to take advantage, and no real gains are achieved by the vast majority of the population.
I really wish, someday, someone with these Utopian thoughts would honestly approach the tough questions. ... and yes, this is a movie about Utopia ... but, alas, I'm afraid the tough questions will remain unanswered, utopias will continue to fail and humanity will still be having this dream 5,000 years from now.