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An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power

Sundance 2017 Review


Paramount; 100 minutes

Director: Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk


Written by on January 20, 2017 




An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, Al Gore‘s follow-up to his 2006 documentary hit An Inconvenient Truth, directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, is determined to find the silver lining to the climate crisis. We follow Mr. Gore as he travels the globe, training those willing to step up and take action in the fight against climate change. And yet, the climate is changing. We watch glaciers burst and fall away, streets in Miami flood while Gore himself let out a tired sigh directed towards Senator Jim Inhofe, a noted climate change denier.

If I can break away from the structure of our usual reviews, I feel that sigh, as I know many others do. Gore admits early on in the documentary that many times he feels his attempt to affect change has been “a personal failure.” While South Florida is literally inventing ways to elevate roads to avoid unpredictable flooding, Governor Rick Scott does his best to avoid the terms climate change and global warming.

There have been a slew of climate-focused docs in recent years, so much so that Sundance now has a specific category devoted to the subject. And as much as there has been progress, it’s difficult to see these days. Gore, in responding to the election of Donald Trump, cites his religion, in which the bible offers a choice between life and death and urges us to choose life.

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And as much as there is optimism to be found here (Gore cites American cities living one-hundred percent off solar energy and hefty energy orders coming from the developing world), there is a melancholy we’re reminded of throughout. In discussing the state of Florida, at the forefront of climate change, a journalist says, “Florida is a challenge,” to which Gore replies, “I can confirm that.”

It’s an easy laugh, but a laugh wrapped in what could have been. We’re told of false analytics bought and paid for by Big Oil to dissuade the notion that green energy can be economically viable. We’re shown people being rescued in the nick of time in the middle of a storm in New Orleans. It’s all happening now, and it’s already claimed so many lives.

And yet, here we are, trying to convince the un-convince-able. This is a tired time in America, and perhaps the hope comes from those like Gore and those he’s training and those leaders at the Paris Climate Change Agreement in 2015. Cohen and Shenk clearly struggle with their presentation of Gore, sometimes framing him as the unsung hero of the world, other times framing him as a conflicted warrior, two steps away from throwing in the towel.

All in all, it’s bracingly effective and not altogether dire. And while Sundance building an entire section around films that deal with climate change feels, to some degree, like the preacher preaching to the converted, we need to keep yelling to whoever will listen. And yell loudly.

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and opens on July 28.

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B+







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