Movie Review: I Am Greta

Climate change has become the subject of roughly 50 feature-length documentaries over the last 15 years. Starting with Al Gore’s environmental quest in An Inconvenient Truth, there’s been a deluge of startling documentaries geared around creating awareness, unpacking the science and showcasing real world examples. Chasing Ice followed a team’s multi-year expedition as they survey the earth’s melting glaciers. The Island President gave an overview of the difficult political situation of the Maldives with rising sea levels reclaiming the island. 2040 serves as an investigation into innovations and solutions to climate change. While Leonardo DiCaprio has been one of the most active advocates against global climate change through The 11th Hour, Before the Flood and Ice on Fire.

The glut of global climate change documentaries is testament to the contentious topic and the drive to create a groundswell movement. While there have been considerable efforts to slow the process, science is still trailing behind the economic interests of big business. Now that “going green” is becoming more profitable and activism is holding agencies to account, we should hopefully see an incremental shift. One of the major proponents of this influence is a teenager. Having Asperger’s syndrome means she’s had special insights into the climate crisis. Generally higher functioning, people with Asperger’s struggle with social interaction and can develop an all-absorbing interest in specific topics.

For young Swede, Greta Thurnberg, her life has become a mission to get people to listen to scientists about environmental problems that have a direct bearing on the future of our planet. She may be in her teens, but she echoes David Attenborough’s witness statement about conservation and humanity’s dire impact on nature from his signature documentary, A Life on this Planet. Thunberg has activated a global movement through the power of one. Picketing alone outside the Swedish parliament, her brave efforts have created a legion of inspired wannabes and a peanut gallery of eye-rolling enemies.

Greta Thunberg

“How do we sleep while our beds are burning?”

I Am Greta serves as an experiential character study, starting with her solo effort and leading to her transatlantic voyage to attend climate conferences in New York City. Thunberg has a viral quality to her fearless activism, stoking the courage and passions of other disillusioned youth to follow her lead when it comes to school strike campaigns such as Fridays for Future. Her Asperger’s helps her cut through the clouds to the science and culture of inaction around environmental issues that have become a political kickball. Burdened with the responsibility of campaigning in the face of death threats and disdain, her voice carries the power and frustration of the next generation.

This fly-on-the-wall documentary from Nathan Grossman is a story of urgency, mission and zeal that addresses the climate crisis from the perspective of a teenage girl who has become the mascot for climate change. Avoiding the bar graph lecture style of An Inconvenient Truth, I Am Greta leads by example with Thunberg walking the walk by reducing her carbon footprint, eating sustainably and avoiding air travel at all costs. Alienated by her peers, defying her shy predisposition and doing everything in her power to keep it together as emotional and physical exhaustion threaten to overwhelm, she and her father travel the world as she petitions world leaders, you and I.

Full access footage of hotels and conferences document this incredible journey for the young girl with a far-reaching influence, powerful voice and no-nonsense approach. While social interaction is a challenge for her, I Am Greta goes behind-the-scenes to portray a brave girl wise beyond her years whose humanity shines through under duress. Her blunt style may get up the nose of some people but her passion and unfettered approach is the wake up call we all need. There’s too much talk and not enough action. While I Am Greta doesn’t cut to the hard science, it demonstrates what can be done on an individual level through action and perseverance. As a character portrait, we’re privy to Thunberg’s conviction, determination and heroic efforts. Her international environmental crusade will hopefully awaken game-changers from their slumber and become her life story and witness statement much like Attenborough.

The bottom line: Impassioned