Film Reviews


By • May 24th, 2006 •

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A Participant Production
Unrated / Running time; 95 minutes

If truth is no stranger to fiction these days—think THANK YOU FOR SMOKING or FAST FOOD NATION — it’s because real life realities have made the documentary mode more off-the-wall than any other thing on screen or under the sun.
So it is with AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, a message movie some early viewers on the festival circuit worried would be shuffled into the Sam Goldwyn file labeled “if you want to send a message, call Western union.” On top of which this bearer of bad news is noted for a sepulchral delivery style, both pompous and boring at the same time.
In other words, Al Gore and the environment. Yet this time out, the timing is right for Gore and his message. He may be fatter than before and his hair mussier. But now that he and we don’t have to worry about whether or not brown suits are best, Gore is freed up to be his finest: being a bit frumpy even seems right, and not too granola-ish.
In AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH we see polar ice caps melting and sea levels rising faster than you can say “I invented the internet.” Though it’s in slide show format, it’s still exciting because it has the thrill of destruction more imminent than anybody cares to know, and yet we must. Greenhouse gasses are trapping heat which explains the killer summers of late; more of the same to come, according to the charts and statistics Gore presents. Summers when all you craved was a lemonade to cool off will now be a permanent thing of the past. And so will be parts of Florida, Calcutta, and even the lower tip of Manhattan, all in lagoons of their own.
This is the urgency that propels this documentary, directed in a mainly straightforward narrative by Davis Guggenheim, following the traveling slide show and Al Gore’s cause celebre for the past few years. His impassioned lecture tour and urgent message need no jazzed up editing, though there are asides: Gore’s personal musings while on the road, for instance. We’ve heard some of it before: the loss of his sister, the near loss of his son. (And little is made of the Big Loss—the presidential bid and, of course, loss to the country—guess that’s implied.) But this go-round it’s poignant, not cloying.
Too, horrendous pre-publicity for the film has been provided in the past year and a half: In a terrible but wonderful conjunction of events for the film (and its director, Guggenheim, who happens to be one of the producers of Deadwood), the recent series of natural apocalyptic disasters—no point in naming them all, let the film do that for you—has finally lifted and focused our consciousness. And more on the way, for there’s no reason to disbelieve the hurricane predictions for 2006, nor the movie’s vision either, backed up by Gore’s highly credible research.
Will the film have an impact? Will people start taking the bus in LA? At least this go-round, Gore and his message have a shot. For the movie has actually been covered in a segment in the nightly national news, pretty much guaranteeing that AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH will not languish in well-meaning obscurity.
Some say the film portends another Presidential run. Not Gore though, who may tease with the idea, but mainly it seems in order to advance his cause. Besides, according to AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, we all have bigger things to worry about. Al Gore sure seems to think so.

Featuring Al Gore
Directed by Davis Gugggenheim
Produced by Laurie David, Lawrence Bender, Scott Z. Burns
Directors of Photography; Bob Richman, Davis Guggenheim
Music by Michael Brook
Edited by Jay Cassidy and Dan Swietlik

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