Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, An Movie Review
The moment Donald Trump backed out of the Paris Climate Accord… the moment Donald Trump and his climate denying pal Scott Pruit began dismantling the EPA… An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power became a near-lock for Best Documentary at next year’s Academy Awards. The moment I left the theater, I was much less convinced.
The sequel to the Oscar-winning PowerPoint presentation An Inconvenient Truth is an important film and one that is, thanks to our president’s shortsightedness and overall incapacity to handle simple truths, extremely timely.
But is it the punch to the gut that it could have been? That it needed to be?
An Inconvenient Sequel is more innovative in its direction—filmmakers Jon Shenk and Bonni Cohen (Audrie & Daisy and Lost Boys of Sudan) take former Vice President Al Gore’s message beyond a Microsoft product and into the world, observing as Gore travels to places such as the arctic, Asia-Pacific and Miami to see the very visible effects of global warming. There are still some PowerPoint slides.
Where Truth to Power (what does that mean???) falters is that it dwells a bit too much on Gore and his mission—rather than on his message. It’s understandable why—Gore is by far the most well-known environmentalist in the world, and depicting the progress he’s made over the last 10 years, culminating in the historic signing of the Paris Accord, would have been sufficient in normal times.
But these aren’t normal times. Trump was elected president. The government is overrun with climate deniers, despite overwhelming evidence, scientific consensus, simple common sense (maybe we should put less shit into the air?) and even financial incentive to invest in renewable energy (it’s cheaper than coal), and has embarrassed the nation by pulling out of a global accord that nearly every country in the world has signed onto.
What An Inconvenient Sequel fails to do—and this would stand even if Clinton had been elected president—is address how to deal with climate deniers. Granted, no one really has answers—Gore seems as flabbergasted as anyone—but the movie’s devotion to Gore means there is limited time to really tackle what Gore wants to accomplish. In other words, this is one sequel that would have benefited from taking what worked in the first film and simply updating the presentation.
Despite its shortcomings, An Inconvenient Sequel does do a great job depicting some of the behind-the-scenes negotiations that went on during the Paris Accord—Shenk and Cohen have unprecedented access to Gore, John Kerry and other world leaders who somehow managed to find common ground. It’s a fascinating subplot of the documentary that, if anything, needed more screen time.
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power offers both a depressing and optimistic look at the state of climate change efforts. It’s incredibly timely and in many ways a must-see, but it also falls short in addressing the most important question people need to be able to answer: how do you effectively convince climate deniers that they are on the wrong side of the truth?
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.