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Tags: climate | stockholm | sweden | summit

Contrived Elements Diminish Sincerity of 'I Am Greta'

swedish environmentalist greta thunberg

Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg joins demonstrators during a Bristol Youth Strike 4 Climate (BYS4C) march, on Feb. 28, 2020 in Bristol, England. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Michael Clark By Sunday, 25 October 2020 06:30 AM Current | Bio | Archive

(NR) *1/2 out of **** (1 and 1/2 Out of Four Stars)


While most Americans know of her only through her "How Dare You!" admonishment at the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York, the Swedish teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg amassed a rock star level of fame in Europe the year before.

She is the youngest individual to ever be "awarded" Time magazine's "Person of the Year" (cover).

Yet, Greta has kept a much lower profile over the past year, ostensibly shunning the limelight and trying to achieve some semblance of normalcy.

The first feature-length effort from director Nathan Grossman, "I Am Greta" is a cinema-verite style documentary.

The film manages to miss its mark on almost all counts; it leaves us knowing little more about its titular character after it finishes than before it began — and not in a way the producers likely intended.

"I Am Greta" lacks the consistency and focus a project such as this absolutely requires.

The film will not garner Thunberg  any new admirers.

If anything, the movie might appreciably erode parts of her mostly Left-leaning fan base.

Freely admitting she has Asperger’s syndrome, Greta exhibits many of that illness’ calling cards: anti-social tendencies, verbosity, selective mutism, a longing for routine, and stereotypy.

She declares throughout "I Am Greta" that she didn’t want to be the center of attention but had to because the adult politicians globally were dragging their feet.

Greta is a perpetual self-aware tick whenever in the company of strangers and frequently when with just her father Svante (a failed actor and the son of another, far better thespian — Olof Thunberg).

It's only when she is with her family’s dogs and horses does she seem at ease and the few instances where she breaks into unbridled laughter, she appears less joyous and more like someone releasing pent-up nervous steam.

A friend of the Thunberg family prior to the start of the production, Grossman had both the blessing and curse of being with Greta on the day of her first "strike."

What does "strike" in this context actually mean?

It occurred in April of 2018, in front of the parliament building in Stockholm.

It was there where liked-minded young people glommed-on to her cause, even if it wasn’t made clear exactly what the cause was or any suggested cures to global warming beyond avoiding air travel and consumption of red meat.

For the duration of Greta’s "European tour," Svante is never more than arms’ length away from her which makes sense and is admirable in its own way as she is his minor child at the center of a mounting maelstrom.

Yet, almost from the start, the project takes on the marked and calculating feel of a commercial venture.

This feeling extends to Grossman’s questionable participation as well.

The entire enterprise lacks immediacy, authentic passion, and anything resembling organic or of-the-moment; a feeling all the more telling with "stunt" meetings with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pope Francis I.

It's in the final 15 minutes of the film, during the Thunberg father/daughter boat ride across the Atlantic from England to New York, does the movie feel it is at its most staged, insincere, and sadly tragic.

Obviously a landlubber, the sea-sick, homesick and disenchanted Greta is dictating to her smart phone in tears while stating [at being a spokesperson] "it’s too much for me." This is beyond revelatory and heartbreaking and is the closest the film ever gets to being remotely sincere.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that Greta is as wise beyond her years as everyone involved with her cause as this film would have us think.

She was barely 15 when this whole thing began and few minor children, however gifted and poised, could handle such attention and scrutiny.

Add to it her Asperger’s condition, her canned, redundant speeches, the fortune cookie-grade platitudes and overall tentativeness, one can’t help thinking she would have been far more content while remaining in Sweden the entire time and speaking to the masses via Skype or Zoom.

Taking a girl this prone and susceptible (who was clearly not ready for exposure under a public microscope) wasn’t so much the indulging of a child’s whims but more horrifically bad parenting. The fact that Greta’s former opera-singer mother Malena remained at home with the family pets during her daughter’s grand adventure is also quite telling.

Until Greta (or her handlers) as well as those such as Al Gore, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and the backers of untenable, fiscally-impossible or non-existent alternative energy plans offer workable alternatives or a shift of direction, the ongoing debates over global warming (which should not be confused with climate change) will continue to result in acrimonious, teeth-gnashing stalemates.

"I Am Greta" is now playing in select theaters and will be available on-demand beginning Nov. 16 on Hulu.

Originally from Washington, D."C., Michael Clark has written for over 30 local and national media outlets, is currently the only newspaper-based film critic providing original content in the Atlanta Top 10 media marketplace and co-founded the Atlanta Film Critics Circle in 2017. Over the last 25 years, Mr. Clark has written over 4,000 movie reviews and film related articles and is one of the scant few conservative-minded U.S. film critics. Read Michael Clark's Reports — More Here.

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The ongoing debates over global warming (which should not be confused with climate change) will continue to result in acrimonious, teeth-gnashing stalemates.
climate, stockholm, sweden, summit
Sunday, 25 October 2020 06:30 AM
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