Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

Before the Flood (2016)

Directed by Fisher Stevens

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ki-moon Ban, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mike Brune

Author

Leo’s heart may have been in the right place, but this isn’t very impactful as a climate change documentary.

The Hollywood star spends a lot of time in exotic locations always looking trendy, with shots in various hairstyles and beards in various stages of growth. He’s always got stylish sunglasses and a cute hat or a fancy custom suit. The camera is on Leo a lot, whether it’s while he marvels at the cute sounds that whales make, listening to the other person speaking during an interview, sitting in a helicopter looking out the window, standing with his fancy outfit in the middle of an Indian slum, pushing Kiribati children on a swing, or goofing around with his director buddy Iñárritu on the set of his latest movie. It all seems awfully self-indulgent. I was actually surprised to learn that the film was directed by Fisher Stevens and not Leo himself.

And in an attempt to make things more emotional, there’s the sad music that plays over B-roll footage of climate destruction or indigenous people or Leo making a sad face as he surveys the latest environmental destruction.

There’s just not much real content here. Leo’s narration is slow and general, in an attempt to capture the danger and emotional impact of climate change without sharing hard facts or offering practical suggestions. Leo makes sure to schmooze with VIPs, but he doesn’t really engage them with interesting, specific questions. Everyone nods and agrees with Leo that climate change is bad, but that is not enough. Infographics desperately try to make the film smarter than it is, but these are perhaps the dumbest, most useless infographics I have ever seen. We need a new angle, new information, new data, new recommendations.

To be honest, Leo comes across as not too bright. He even misspells “privilege” in a book he signs for the pope. I did like his UN speech at the end, though. Perhaps the most eloquent and emotionally powerful part of the whole movie.

So does this bring anything new to the climate change movement? I don’t think so. See it if you are in love with Leo.

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