| Writer Colin Beavan decided to be a guinea pig for a radical experiment to help the planet for one year. He vowed to live outside the comfort zone and make as little environmental impact as possible. His wife, Michelle, and their 2-year-old daughter, Isabella, were forced to go along. Some of the things they gave up included toilet paper, disposable razors, television, automated transportation, non-local food, plastic bags, take-out meals, shopping for anything new and electricity.
Directors Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein take a character-driven approach in this 90-minute documentary. It is enjoyable to get to know this Manhattan-based family and spend time with them as they struggle with extreme lifestyle changes.
The movie is filled with humorous moments as these engaging personalities make sacrifices to benefit the environment. They are forced to spend more time outside and find the days last longer. It forces the viewer to rethink what is really important in life and consider similar beneficial changes.
Michelle told Colin when they got married that she did not like camping. “Now our whole house (actually an apartment) has turned into a campground,” says Michelle.
Commendable camera work contrasts their claustrophobic 5th Avenue apartment with familiar Manhattan landmarks.
This project of reduce, reuse and recycle became the subject of Beavan’s just-published book about his experiences. Environmental activists questioned Beavan’s sincerity and motives. They claimed this was a publicity stunt with the book’s release on 9/11 coinciding with the documentary’s opening date in New York and Los Angeles.
The movie makes some sound arguments regarding the breakdown of community. Beavan stresses that we are all interconnected and not isolated on some remote island.
This non-fiction film compares favorably with “Super Size Me” where Morgan Spurlock ate all his meals for a year at McDonald’s.
This curiosity piece should stimulate interesting conversations about the lessons learned from the viewing experience. Now showing exclusively for a limited engagement at the Tivoli in Westport.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"