Greta Thunberg’s cause is undeniably an important one, but Hulu’s new documentary exploring her activism belabours the point and borders on tedious.
“I am Greta” isn’t quite the heroic announcement of solidarity that “I am Spartacus” was, but then again Greta Thunberg is a very different kind of hero – if indeed you believe she’s a hero at all, though it’s difficult to denounce the young woman’s very public activism. Hulu’s new documentary feature is firmly behind Greta’s message about the dangers of climate change, which for her began when she was 15 and started a school strike outside the Swedish parliament, chiding public officials and imploring similarly-aged kids to take up arms themselves if adults weren’t willing to. In fact, I Am Greta is so firmly behind the message that it repeats it again and again in case we didn’t catch it the first time.
There’s a peculiar challenge for Nathan Grossman, who directs this film as a slightly too broad examination of Thunberg’s short life, impactful work, and largely unmerited, dismissive criticism, and I present that challenge to you now: While what she’s saying is important and people should listen, Thunberg is terribly annoying. She lectures adults, she moans about vegan options at climate conferences, and she practices what she preaches by refusing to fly, meaning a trip to New York for the United Nations Climate Action Summit in 2019 had to be made by a lengthy sea voyage, and thus I Am Greta must document this in similarly lengthy fashion.
You can see the problem – Thunberg’s basically a mawkish liberal caricature brought to life, and while it’s obviously a good thing that she was brought to life, given the inroads she has made in raising global awareness around climate change and the associated science, you wouldn’t want to spend any actual time with her. I wouldn’t, anyway.
I Am Greta, in that sense, isn’t aimed at people like me, since it spends altogether too much time with Thunberg, reiterating her call to action across 97 minutes that feel like 970. I’m glad the documentary feature exposes the baselessness of some of the criticisms leveled at Thunberg, and I’m equally happy that, in cameos from various world leaders and such, we see how much of a genuine impact her celebrity is having. I’m just unhappy that I had to sit through it all at once.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.