The film’s title will use up many of the allotted words for this review, so it’s best to be terse when critiquing “How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change.” Hence, a one-word assessment of this documentary: Tough. As in, tough to watch. Tough to consider. Tough to ignore.
Josh Fox, the director, begins in a short-lived state of serenity, relaxing at his rural Pennsylvania home after his community won a battle against fracking companies that wanted to drill in the area. (The possibility of fracking there spurred him to make “Gasland,” an Oscar-nominated documentary from 2010.)
He soon discovered a beloved tree was being killed by woolly adelgids. Cold northern winters can confine these invasive insects to the South, but climate change is increasing their range.
That led him to talk to experts about rising global temperatures. The interviews detail nightmarish scenarios: stifling heat, relentless storms and mass extinctions are soon to arrive, we’re told. Even if we gave up fossil fuels tomorrow, it’s projected that the catastrophes are inevitable.
It’s grueling to hear and ugly to see as he visits some of the places most affected by pollution: a Chinese city with lung-clogging air, an oil spill in the Amazon. There’s a chance you’ll miss such moments as you look away or wince at the horror of our collective idiocy and environment-destroying greed.
To be sure, Mr. Fox adds a bit of optimism, with occasional scattershot sections highlighting renewable energy and the success of civil disobedience against corporations and governments. But those scenes are like a few grains of sugar dropped into a glass of rancid milk: They don’t really change the taste. Even with its final, hopeful words, this film leaves you with some very stomach-turning emotions.
“How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change” is not rated. Running time: 2 hours 7 minutes.
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