No Impact Man

Proof that ‘eco’ and ‘entertainment’ aren't mutually exclusive.

With Colin Beavan, Michele Conlin.

Proof that “eco” and “entertainment” aren’t mutually exclusive, “No Impact Man” may be a socially progressive, environmentally conscious film, but it goes down far easier than, say, an all-natural, fiber-enriched peanut butter sandwich without a glass of soy milk. It’s that rare doc (these days) that could go theatrical, largely because it’s a film about a couple, more than a movement. In fact, at the risk of causing domestic discord, this Laura Gabbert-Justin Schein film might have been called “No Impact Woman.”

Michelle Conlin is not the movie’s principal character – that would be her husband, Colin Beavan, whose goal is to spend one year leaving as small a carbon footprint as inhumanely possible. And he’s taking the family with him as he jumps over the crunchy, caffeine-less cliff.

Conlin doesn’t really want to go. Providing the humor and the skepticism, she becomes the audience’s stand-in as Beavan (who’s planning a book on the project) imposes a suddenly Spartan way of life on his daughter and wife — who really likes her Starbucks lattes and taxi cabs. “Daddy does nature,” she tells little Isabella, as their Greenwich Village apartment becomes home to compost eating worms and improvised refrigeration. “Mommy does retail.” When the couple carts all their unnecessary stuff to a thrift store, Conlin wants to buy the Marc Jacob handbag in the window.

Popular on Variety

But it’s Conlin who becomes the convert to the cause: While Beavan’s book brings his passion into question, Conlin really comes to believe in what they’re doing, despite such deprivations as no electricity, no out-of-season produce and, worst of all, no caffeine. As such, “No Impact Man,” becomes the best kind of propaganda, as well as a very entertaining movie.

Production values are fine, with Schein’s often on-the-fly camerawork a standout.

No Impact Man

Production: An Impact Partners presentation of an Eden Wurmfeld/Shadowbox Films/Laura Gabbert Films production. Produced by Gabbert, Wurmfeld. Executive producers, Julia Parker Benello, Diana Barrett, Dan Cogan, Abigail Disney, Barbara Dobkin, Kevin Gruneich, Donna Gruneich, David Menschel, Adriana Mnuchin, Susan Myers, Gib Myers, Sarah Johnson Redlich, Juliette Timsit, Caroleen Feeney. Co-producers, Colin Beavan, Michelle Conlin. Directed by Laura Gabbert, Justin Schein.

Crew: Camera (color, HD video), Schein; editors, William Haugse, Matthew Martin; music, Bobby Johnston. Reviewed at the Sundance Film Festival, (Spectrum--Documentary Spotlight), Jan. 16, 2009. Running time: 90 MIN.

With: With Colin Beavan, Michele Conlin.

More Film

  • Father

    'Father': Film Review

    “Father” begins with a mother. Dragging her two sullen, uncomprehending kids along with her, Biljana (Nada Šargin) strides onto the grounds of the factory from which her husband was let go more than a year before and harangues the foreman about the severance package they still have not received. The children are hungry, she wails, [...]

  • Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm

    'Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street': Film Review

    In 1985, New Line rushed out a sequel to its breakout horror hit of the prior year. But while commercially successful enough, “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” was initially disliked by mainstream horror fans, then later won cult status, for the same reason: It struck many as “the gayest horror film of [...]

  • Leaving Neverland HBO

    HBO Seeks Dismissal of Michael Jackson Estate's Suit Over 'Leaving Neverland'

    HBO urged an appeals court on Friday to throw out litigation brought by the Michael Jackson estate over the 2019 documentary “Leaving Neverland.” HBO and the Jackson estate have been locked in a legal war ever since the premium cable network agreed to run the documentary, which chronicles child sexual abuse allegations against Jackson. The [...]

  • Denzel Washington

    Film News Roundup: Denzel Washington-Rami Malek Thriller Set for Early 2021 Release

    In today’s film news roundup, a Denzel Washington-Rami Malek thriller gets a release date, “Escape Room 2” gets moved, Paramount sets a double feature, “So Cold the River” wraps and the Sonoma Film Festival unveils its lineup. RELEASE DATES Warner Bros. has set the Denzel Washington-Rami Malek police thriller “The Little Things” for a Jan. 29, [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Writers Guild Says It Helped Negotiate 100 Deals for Agent-Less Members

    The Writers Guild of America has asserted that it has assisted in negotiating more than 100 deals in recent months for members without agents. The missive from the WGA West board of directors comes nearly a year after the guild leaders ordered their 15,000 members to fire their agents if the agents had not agreed [...]

  • the jesus rolls

    Émilie Simon Contributes Flamenco/Gypsy Vibe to John Turturro's ‘The Jesus Rolls’

    For French musician Émilie Simon, the flamenco-meets-gypsy vibe writer-director John Turturro was seeking for the soundtrack to his movie “The Jesus Rolls” turned out to be in her musical and genetical DNA. “This music originally comes from where I grew up in the south of France,” says the 41-year-old electronic musician, who has released five [...]

  • My Hero Academia Heroes Rising

    'My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising' ADR Director on Adapting the Anime for a U.S. Audience

    “My Hero Academia” has officially Detroit Smashed into North American theaters. Sony Pictures Television’s Funimation released “Heroes Rising” in the U.S. on Wednesday, grossing $2.5 million on its opening day. Theaters are showing the film, a standalone entry in the popular superhero anime based on the manga, with options for either subtitles or with an [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content