Film Reviews

Review: ‘How to Let Go of the World (and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change)’

Hot Docs 2016

Raven Joseph and Tatianna Burchette, high school students in the Rockaways, dance on the beach hit by Hurricane Sandy 1000 days after the storm.
Courtesy of Hot Docs.

How to Let Go of the World (and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change)
(USA, 125 min.)
Dir. Josh Fox
World Showcase (International Premiere)

How to Let Go of the World has a sly approach to the subject of climate change. Josh Fox’s follow-up to his Gasland films plays as a satirical epic with a tone of jocular despair. The movie, opening on Fox dancing manically to Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, recalls an environmentalist victory and then shows him crash when confronted by the magnitude of climate change.

Explosive montages of devastation, intercut with terse warnings from environmentalists, drive home an agonizing truth: it’s too late. We are lurching toward a Mad Max nightmare of rising sea level refugees, scarcity, and the end of civilization.

“I don’t know about you,” Fox says to us, “but I’m ready to watch some cat videos.” We see some cat videos and a stunning overhead of Fox prone in a forest, a helpless dot. He manages to pull himself up, however, and into a quest for people who don’t get paralyzed by despair. The journey takes him from Iceland to Samoa, into areas where “intoxicating beauty” is endangered, and idealists delight in their battles.

Fox’s discovery of “things climate can’t change,” from resilience and innovation to love, leads him to an epiphany. How to Let Go of the World is a dynamic doc with an insistently hopeful resolution that not everybody will buy, not to mention a two-hour plus running time that starts to feel inflated.

How to Let Go of the World (and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change) screens:
-Wednesday, May 4 at TIFF Bell Lightbox at 12:45 PM
-Saturday, May 7 at TIFF Bell Lightbox at 9:15 PM

Please visit the POV Hot Docs hub for more coverage on this year’s festival.

Hot Docs runs April 28 – May 8. Visit for more information.

Maurie Alioff writes about movies for publications off- and on-line, and is a screenwriter currently collaborating on a documentary featuring Bob Marley’s granddaughter while researching other Jamaica-related projects, including a magical-realist crime story drawing on stories he hears on the island. He has written for radio, journals and TV, taught screenwriting and been a contributing editor to various magazines.

View all articles by Maurie Alioff »