The Age of Stupid is a film about climate change, but it's not An Inconvenient Truth: Part Deux. Whereas the purpose of Al Gore's 2006 box office hit was to shake us from our slumber of self-comforting denial, Stupid is designed to take hold of our heads and smash our faces repeatedly into a table until we get up and do things differently.
It's indicative of how the debate has shifted over the last few years that Stupid does not spend time linking climate change with greenhouse gas emissions. The film states that less than 1% of climate scientists believe that there is any doubt about that link (even if this number rises to 60% when the general public are asked their opinion). The debate is over at long last, so the intention of Stupid is to use human stories to illustrate what a serious pickle our species has got itself into.
Stupid is mostly a documentary following the very different lives of six individuals and families around the world. The subjects include an oil geologist who lived in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, attempting to deal with the devastation of losing everything he owned to a natural disaster that was probably worsened by the burning of oil that he discovered.
Stupid is immaculately produced, carefully involving the audience in the on screen emotions, from sharing the heartbreak of the elderly French mountain guide witnessing a glacier recede, to the frustrated anger of the environmentalist whose wind farm had been blocked by a local NIMBY campaign.
Linking the documentaries together is a series of animated fact files from Passion Pictures (famous for the Gorrilaz) and an innovative fictional subplot starring Pete Postlethwaite. Postlethwaite plays the role of an archivist in 2055, responsible for curating a climate-proof store of human culture, history and scientific discovery, as well as two pickled specimens of every creature on Earth. At this stage, the planet is all-but uninhabitable and the archivist creates the film as a warning for whichever civilisation finally inherits the Earth.
Stupid focuses on the idea that it was our behaviour in the years up to 2015 that caused unstoppable climate change, culminating in the near-extinction of life by the middle of the century. Postelthwaite's character struggles to comprehend quite why we did nothing to stop our own suicide even when we knew that we could.
So is it a good film? Yes, it's bordering on the brilliant. At times it made me laugh, at other times it filled me with tears, and at one point I literally swung my fist in anger at the Daily Mail worshipping, house price obsessed, anti-wind lobbyists. Stupid isn't perfect; I felt that a couple of the documentary subjects distracted from the main issue of climate change by focusing on the evils of Big Oil. However, I would still challenge anyone who sees this film to be left without a fire in their belly.
Sadly, The Age of Stupid has not been seen by many people. It is an independent film which was funded entirely by small contributions from public investors. As such, it hasn't had the benefit of large distribution networks. I shared the experience with 13 other people at the Panton St Odeon in London. Elsewhere, Horne and Corden's Lesbian Vampire Killers was probably playing to a full house. The Age of Stupid sounds like quite an apt title to me.