I am Greta is a documentary that follows 15 year old schoolgirl, environmental activist and world’s worst truant Greta Thunberg from the start of what was her one woman campaign starting back in August 2018 sitting outside the Swedish Parliament to protest about climate change with a hand painted sign and a handful of handwritten handouts when most 15 year olds are hanging around the back of an off licence accosting customers into buying them a two litre bottle of White Lightning.
Thunberg’s campaign saw her vow to hold her one woman protest until the Swedish election. And I am Greta shows just how quickly she drew attention to the cause with more school kids joining her although the cynic in us can’t help but feel it was an ideal excuse to bunk off double chemistry lessons. And therein lies the crux of Thunberg’s ambition , the cynicism of adults with the politicians seeing her as something of a novelty initially inviting her to address various groups but more interested in getting a selfie with her than taking heed of her words. Her first address to politicians sees her talking to them like little children which is likely to have pleased them immensely having saved them from paying money for the sort of specialist service they get on a Saturday night in Soho.
And as her profile increases she finds more and more celebs hopping on board for a photo op. It’s all credit to Thunberg that she’s less than impressed with them and is refreshingly forthright knowing that these figures are playing a game and are fake in their intentions. There’s a sincerity and purity about her commitment and her frustration at the inactivity of politicians is palpable and made clear with shots of the her addressing the UN whilst the delegates ignore her to play on their phones. It sums their disinterest perfectly and is a damning an image in a documentary which steers clear of stock shots of downtrodden indigenous people without hope in bleak weather beaten landscapes or we like to call it, Hull.
Thunberg has been a divisive figure but there’s no doubting her dedication from a girl who is quite open about her Aspergers and yet has motivated a movement and there’s something depressingly reprehensible of political figures abusing their public platform by berating Greta calling her names in the worst kind of playground bullying by grown men that is utterly shameful. The effect of this comes to a head in a scene where she is sailing across the Atlantic to address the UN. Recording on her phone a diary entry she opens up about missing home, her pets and the responsibility she feels resting on her shoulders as she tries her best to hold back the tears. It’s a heartbreaking moment which humanizes and serves to remind that she is still a young girl that’s achieved an immense amount.
I am Greta is not a wholly balanced look at the year in her life where she’s come to public attention and there’s obviously been more going on behind the scenes for her profile to have been raised so high, so quickly and there’s a sense that the documentary isn’t telling us everything. In that respect it lacks a balance. Though the film ends with just how influential she has been with marches around the world and includes her now iconic frustrated cry of, ‘How dare you!’ to the UN. Her ongoing frustration is understandable that those who are in a position to do something still do nothing.
Here’s the trailer…….