Damon Gameau, Zoey Gameau
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…through a self-deprecating and endearingly ‘dad joke’ sense of humour, this inherently-political work is kept within the realms of the personal. It’s basically the same method as Louis Theroux or John Safran: The work we see is born out of a genuine want to learn.
Global warming. Just those two words are enough to send people into all-out rant mode, and for a documentary all about climate change, it can serve as a barrier to entry for some audiences. Even the act of writing about films like this is almost a guarantee to get two diametrically opposed reactions.
With a political hot button topic, it takes a lot to make people change their minds. The latest from Damon Gameau (That Sugar Film) may not be enough to sway popular opinion, but it’s certainly not for lack of trying.
This isn’t the kind of film to wallow in the misery of the worst-case scenario, where the bulk of the conversation surrounding climate change tends to sit. Instead, 2040 aims for a more optimistic result, one where the problems raised don’t have a depressing final outcome. It’s a trip across the world to find already-existing behaviours and technologies that could not only help reduce the environmental damage but possibly reverse what has already been done.
Its goal in educating and setting up for a brighter future is tempered by the intentions of Gameau himself, whose reason for making this film is kept directly in the spotlight: His daughter, a turning point in his previous work. And through a self-deprecating and endearingly ‘dad joke’ sense of humour, he keeps this inherently-political work from completely going off the rails by keeping it within the realms of the personal. It’s basically the same method as Louis Theroux or John Safran: The work we see is born out of a genuine want to learn.
And what we learn – from agriculture to education to a utopia where road rage is less of an issue – is a framework reliant on teamwork. Wanting to create a better future is about as ambitious as a production can get, and the way Gameau and co. go about building its foundations are commendable.
One of the easiest pitfalls is alienating the very people you seek to reach with a given message, and he certainly makes it a point to make things inclusive. Whether you work in agriculture or still enjoy eating a good steak or just want things to be palatable for the kids, the film emphasises choice, making it clear that he isn’t expecting people to be strong-armed into being part of this grand plan.
While it lacks the creative energy of That Sugar Film, not to mention its utter mindfrag of a music video for an ending, 2040’s down-to-earth approach and clarity definitely wins points. It still may not be enough to convince the people who need convincing on the topic, so it runs the risk of preaching to the eco-friendly choir, but with its infectious optimism, it stands a better chance than most at making a practical difference.