GOLIATH opens with a disclaimer. ‘Although based on real events, the characters and situations portrayed in this film are fictional. Nevertheless, resemblance to actual persons or events is no coincidence’.
The following film definitely portrays some polarising characters, and situations. I can see why they needed to make that legal disclaimer. It protects them from prosecution, but it also makes it hard to fact check the story. Whether you think the move was sensible or cunning, depends on whether you believe it.
Goliath is an activist film. So whether you enjoy it or not, is almost entirely dependent on how accurate you find its message. This film is about big feelings. In this case, it’s a film about pesticides as poisons, government conspiracy, and lobby groups for Big Agriculture.
A French farmer has lost her wife to cancer, arguably as a result of pesticides. She is pushed to commit one final, desperate act. The environmental lawyer she hired becomes obsessed with finding out the truth about these pesticides, consequences be damned. And a rural school teacher, tired of handing out pamphlets, starts fighting on the picket lines.
Meanwhile, villainous lobbyists rub their little hands, making a fortune from the companies the film alleges are running our world toward destruction.
GOLIATH was made with passion and love. As a call to action, it’s pretty effective. It’s also melodramatic as all heck. It’s even in the title: GOLIATH. There are times when the evil character says the quiet part out loud. Secret plans, obviously evil, explained at great length. You’ll either find it incredibly moving or very annoying.
Now, it’s likely there was some subtlety in the script that was lost in translation. But also it’s hard to write a call-to-action film like GOLIATH without heavy exposition. Director and co-writer Frédéric Tellier is trying to explain their strongly held beliefs around pesticides, petrol, and all manner of potential environmental threats. And they’re trying to tell you what you can do about it.
But it’s not doing anything that other films haven’t done better.
GOLIATH really succeeds at making you feel. The film sweeps you along with these wild, catastrophic events, one after the other. There’s no time to reflect. The motivation of each character is clear, their misery apparent. Indeed, they often say what they want out loud.
If you’re someone – like me – who gets a little obsessed with evidence, probably give GOLIATH a miss. It’s a simplistic take on a complex issue. Sometimes it borders on conspiracy theory.
Otherwise, it’s an okay watch. Even if I wasn’t on board with all of it, it made me want to have a closer look at environmental issues. And I’m now using my recycling bin with newfound enthusiasm.
The 33rd Alliance Française French Film Festival kicks off very soon head over to the website to find out more – http://www.affrenchfilmfestival.org/