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By Phil Hall | June 5, 2007

Nicolas Jollet’s “Harvest” is a delightfully offbeat production that mixes the concert film format with a cinema verite drama.

The drama involves a Rastafarian named Jaweve who is harvesting a marijuana crop in the mountains on St. Lucia. Time is not his ally – his crop is not quite ready, but the local police helicopters are circling the mountains in search of the illegal plants. Jaweve is eager to get his marijuana ready for export, as he is eager to leave St. Lucia (which he calls “Babylon”) in search of spiritual enlightenment in far corners of the world.

As the story unfolds, it appears that Jaweve odyssey is being told on three screens behind a stage where the Canadian band Psycho Key is performing. With their distinctive mix of reggae, rock and Indian-influenced sitar music, they relate Jaweve’s journey out of the St. Lucian mountains into a grander world of spiritual wisdom.

The pinballing between the dramatic and the concert fare takes a bit of time for adjustment, but once you get into its funky groove the result is quite a treat. The music is fun, funky and refreshingly original. The drama, anchored by Azaniah as the protagonist Jaweve, offers a fascinating insight into the fringes of Rasta culture in a Caribbean society where such free spirited souls are barely welcomed.

From a visual standpoint, one might quibble over a few artsy FX touches that suggest someone had too much fun playing with the CGI toolbox (a full moon floating over a daylight sky, fiery mushroom clouds exploding over a calm landscape). But beyond that, “Harvest” is a marvelous and intellectually enriching experience. And for the stoners in the audience, it’s great reason to light up!

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