Film review: I Am Greta

PUBLISHED: 08:10 08 October 2020

I Am Greta

I Am Greta

Archant

The story of how a Swedish schoolgirl became a global climate crisis campaigner focuses too much on the personality and too little on the issues she cares about

I Am GretaI Am Greta

If I were a youngster worried about the climate crisis I think I’d feel inclined to, very reluctantly and with a heavy heart, bundle Greta Thunberg into a sack and chuck her in a river like an unwanted Christmas pup.

Callous and unforgivable I know, but this is a battle for your survival and the oldies – the-best-of-everything-is-good-enough-for-them generation - are desperate for any excuse to do nothing.

Greta’s joyless puritanism might be reason enough to write off humanity’s future as a bad lot.

(On a similar note, I’d recommend an Extinction Rebellion rebranding.

ER assume the word extinction will focus their attention on the urgency of the topic; in fact, all it does is get them running the numbers on the likelihood of their pension provision stretching to the end of civilisation.)

I doubt this documentary portrait will change perceptions much, but apart from when she is complaining about meat and dairy being served at a UN climate conference, she is very endearing. You treasure the few moments a smile replaces the Stephen-Merchant-frown on her face.

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Director/cameraman one-man-band Grossman was there from the beginning, filming her sitting alone outside the Swedish Parliament on her first school strike.

How very convenient, but it seems as though he was just the beneficiary of an outrageous piece of good fortune. From there he has the inside track on this lonely little girl, ostracised because of her Asperger’s, becoming a global superstar in a few months, concluding with her sailing across the Atlantic.

Greta’s recurring question is how can people consistently avoid addressing such an important topic?

Inadvertently, the film demonstrates the answer very clearly. Its focus is entirely on the personality, on the story; issues are completely avoided.

Early on, Greta expresses amazement that there are “politicians who don’t even know what the Albedo Effect or the Keeling Curve are,” but the film doesn’t tell us what they are. Instead, we get to see her and her father travelling by train and electric car to meet and be patronised by various windbags of High Office.

3/5 stars.

Directed by Nathan Grossman. Featuring Greta Thunberg, Svante Thunberg. Running time: 97 mins.

Go to www.halfmanhalfcritic.com for a review of the Criterion Collection Blu-ray of Mike Leigh’s Gilbert and Sullivan film Topsy Turvy.


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