At this point, if you don’t believe in the dangers our planet and species face due to climate change and its effects, I question both your sanity and intelligence. And if this is the case, a documentary isn’t likely to sway you anytime soon, even if it’s a masterpiece. Nevertheless, Australian actor/director Damon Gameau presents 2040, which calls for people to stop burying their heads in the sand and take action.
Instead of bombarding us with doom and gloom — as is usually the case with films about our planet’s future — Gameau takes the optimistic path of a dreamer and problem solver. His goal is to tackle the issues we collectively face with solutions rather than blame, and in this regard 2040 sets itself apart from its dour counterparts.
Stemming from curiosity and concern about what his 4-year-old daughter’s life will be like 20 years from now, Gameau travels the globe in search of modern, forward-thinking and actionable plans to curb emissions and foster sustainability from cutting-edge researchers and planetary advocates. He then uses these advances to visualize and reenact how a bright and healthy future may look for his imagined, now-grown daughter — provided we implement these lifestyle and structural changes immediately.
Gameau’s approach is novel and refreshing, but his presentation doesn’t always work. Much of the film’s bite is lost through a mishmash of animation and special effects that distract rather than enhance, creating an unwieldy experience. In addition, its fractured, anthology approach forces an episodic feel rather than a fully formed narrative. As an educational TV series for kids and teens, 2040 would shine, but when presented as a feature film for an adult audience, the results fall flat.
With rushed, hastily told vignettes, it can be hard to wholly invest in 2040’s details, but as a conversation starter for the already initiated, it certainly has worth. It’s difficult to disagree with Gameau — unless your mind is already made up — and as the parent of a 5-year-old, I find my concerns aligning closely with the filmmaker’s. Despite its lackluster presentation, 2040 is filled to the brim with ideas and empowerment, and we owe it to future generations to take a good long listen — and then act accordingly. Forgive my bluntness, but there’s a lot of shit going down in the world right now. Worrying about whether we’ll have a planet for our kids to live on shouldn’t be one of them.
Available to rent starting June 5 via grailmoviehouse.com