Pin It
Favorite

No Impact Man 

Not using toilet paper is hard. Plus other non-revelations.

click to enlarge art15052.jpg

The most surprising thing about No Impact Man — the only surprising thing, maybe — is how many directions the spite comes from. Americans like spite — we are a partisan, factionalized nation, after all — but here the venom is all directed at Colin Beavan, a soft-spoken, naive-seeming new Yorker. Beavan — a writer and a liberal — may have written two history books, but now he wants to link his writing with activism.

What he wants, without ever saying it, is to quill his generation’s Walden.

His declared project involves living impact-free for a year — or rather, gradually phasing things out over the first six months and then living totally impact-free for the rest of the year: no electricity, no refrigeration, no toilet paper. Nothing.

As sustainability is a cause cél├Ębre in basically all circles, Beavan seems to magically generate publicity for this endeavor — an endeavor, it must be noted, through which he drags his wife and toddler daughter. Good Morning America followed him for this entire year, often alongside the documentary crew filming this film.

And that’s where the spite comes in. From conservative blog commenters (one wants to kill Beavan’s entire family with an automatic rile). From eco-activists (Beavan should be working to change laws). Even from people doing more or less what Beavan is doing, but less so (the extremity of his mission makes the whole movement seem fringe).

Other than web chatter, however, the rest of No Impact Man is rather staid. not using toilet paper is hard. (No shit.) The most intriguing character is Beavan’s wife, Michelle Conlin, a writer at BusinessWeek who makes enough money that she can drop nearly $1,000 on Chloe boots and only feel a teensy bit sheepish. She’s the only non-static character, being incredibly resistant before seeming to make a genuine life change.

I say “seeming” because we never really see it — not the emotions, not the near breakdown. The life-change happens in its and starts, making it hard to love these people and hard to hate them. The film ends without having presented any sense of real sacrifice.

Maybe the book is better.

Tags:

  • Pin It

Latest in Film

  • Closing the Book
  • Closing the Book

    Peter Jackson bids farewell to his hobbits with one last, great movie
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • The One Who Knocks
  • The One Who Knocks

    Why an Australian indie called The Babadook became one of 2014's creepiest films
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Let My People Go Big
  • Let My People Go Big

    Exodus: Gods and Kings fails when it tries to humanize its spectacle
    • Dec 10, 2014
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Christmas at the Bing

Christmas at the Bing @ Bing Crosby Theater

Sun., Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Luke Baumgarten

Most Commented On

  • Fresh Spin

    A local record shop is reincarnated under a new owner, giving this generation a taste of vinyl
    • Nov 25, 2014
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

Film


Review


© 2014 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation