A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
In the courtyard of their monastery, dressed in traditional robes, their heads shaven, young monks play a game of soccer, kicking around a Coke can. This image, near the beginning of "The Cup," symbolizes its cheerful truce between the sacred and the mundane. The movie is a light-hearted comedy with serious undertones about the Chinese campaign against the traditions of Tibet.
The film takes place at a Tibetan monastery in exile in India, which from time to time receives Tibetan children whose parents have smuggled them past the border guards so that they can be raised in the ancient Buddhist teachings. And so they are, in a monastery which seems a little like any boarding school for irrepressible kids. "We shave our heads so that girls will not find us attractive," one explains to another, sighing that it doesn't work in the opposite direction.
The monastery is overseen by an abbot (Lama Chonjor), who is old and holy and deep and revered, and human, and with a twinkle in his eye. He knows that the ancient ways in which he was raised are now in collision with the modern world, and so he is not altogether astonished when a 12-year-old student named Orgyen (Jamyang Lodro) stirs up desire among his fellow students to watch the World Cup finals on TV.
Why is this match so important? Because the World Cup itself is an obsession for most males in most of the world, of course, but especially because the final is between France and Brazil, "and France supports the cause of Tibet." The abbot's assistant (Oga) is not an unreasonable man and agrees to take the request to the holy man, who after due thought, agrees. But official permission is only the first of many hurdles for the young monks, who now must raise the money to rent a television set and a satellite dish, and transport both to the monastery. Their attempts are told against a backdrop of daily life and human (and sacred) comedy in the monastery.