If you’ve paid any attention to the news in the past twenty years, little of Charles Ferguson’s glossy climate-change documentary Time to Choose will come as a shock. The horrors of the coal industry, the decimation of the rainforests, the fast-rising sea levels — all familiar, terrifying stuff, and powerfully depicted in this globe-spanning portrait of the present crisis.
However, if An Inconvenient Truth served to scare us, then Time to Choose offers hope, presenting what amounts to an hour-and-45-minute commercial for renewable technology that might inspire confidence in scientific progress even as it reminds us that it isn’t cheap being green.
That might be the opposite of the point. As the industry insiders assembled by Ferguson argue, the financial costs of halting climate change will drop as the demand for sustainable practices rises. They want us to leave the theater shouting “Yes, we can!” Yet for all the galvanizing talk of solar energy, wind turbines, electric cars, and vegetarian diets, the filmmakers seem to forget that many people who want to save the planet will never be able to afford these grand gestures of ethical consumerism.
Time to Choose does not aim to convince the nonbelievers (at this point, global-warming deniers may as well be flat-earth truthers). Nevertheless, in forgoing an emphasis on numbers in favor of heart-tugging images of natural beauty and rhapsodic talking-head testimonials, the film comes across more as a sales pitch than an invigorating plea for action. Change may be possible, but seemingly only in the hands of the already privileged.
Time to Choose
Directed by Charles Ferguson
Opens June 3, Landmark Sunshine
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 1, 2016