There's no need to go into a long synopsis of this movie, or to analyze Bill Murray's performance. This is a movie about a regular guy that suddenly has his world shattered, and so he sets off on a quest for wisdom. As for Murray's portrayal of the central role, Larry Darell, I thought it was perfectly fitting that a man most of us see as a kind of big-hearted clown is here cast as a spiritual adventurer. After all, must these two types by very different from each other? The movie works very well if you don't try to typecast Murray or go into the story with preconceptions about what kind of character Larry Darell is supposed to be. In fact, a big message in the story is about not being trapped by preconceptions about the way things are "supposed to be".
Some of the images in this movie are stunning, and there are times when I get the feeling that I'm looking at one of those Asian landscape paintings in which the tiny figure of a man sits in silent meditation among great mountains, a broad sky, and placid valleys. Without beating you over the head with it, the camera work constantly reminds you that life is bigger than you and that the world is full of wonders. The story reminds us that such wonders can be either beautiful or ugly, with many of them being both at the same time.
The reason I don't give it 5 stars? It left a lot of character development unaddressed, and the viewer simply had to fill in the blanks for many of Larry's challenges and realizations. If you don't find it tugging at your heart, and if you don't find yourself solemnly nodding at some of its poignant observations about life, and then laughing at some folly we all share, then it's not due the movie's shortcomings.