Sundance Film Review: ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’
It might be the understatement of the millennium to say that Donald Trump is not about to do the issue of climate change (or those who care about it) any great favors. Yet Trump’s ascendance could wind up doing a very big favor for “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” Al Gore’s winning and impassioned, stirring and proudly wonkish follow-up to “An Inconvenient Truth.” If Hillary Clinton were about to be inaugurated as president, then “An Inconvenient Sequel” would still be highly worth seeing, but the movie, which premiered tonight at Sundance to a justly enthusiastic audience, has now been given the kind of shot in the arm that only a seething enemy can provide.
Ten years ago, when “An Inconvenient Truth” made its own splash at Sundance (and was picked up by Paramount, a deal that proved instrumental in turning it into a phenomenon), the film may have been “speaking truth to power,” but there was every reason to think that, like too many socially conscious Sundance documentaries, it would wind up preaching to the choir. But “An Inconvenient Truth” was the rare documentary that actually achieved what these movies always set out to do: It didn’t just change hearts and minds — it shifted a paradigm. The movie presented Gore as a charming dweeb professor of dire environmental warning, but it didn’t just offer a message. It clanged the alarm bell and brought the news. It helped to free global warming from its pesky (and outdated) leftist underpinnings, establishing the issue as a mainstream concern in the same way that Occupy Wall Street injected the meme of the one percent into the center of middle-class culture.
For those who got it — that is, for those who grasped that the issue of climate change truly is about the survival of the planet, and maybe even the human race — the last 10 years have been a time of galvanizing hope and punishing despair. Both those spirits course through “An Inconvenient Sequel,” which once again features Al Gore in lecture mode, as he gives his Climate Leadership Training seminars around the world. But the movie, directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk (taking over from Davis Guggenheim, who is still one of the producers), also takes the form of a more wide-ranging exploration of where the planet is now at, with Gore as our scientist/preacher/tour guide through everything…