Weight of the world on Greta’s shoulders
TEENAGE eco- warrior Greta Thunberg has never flinched from speaking the truth to the planet’s most powerful people. Sadly, Swedish film- maker Nathan Grossman lacks that same conviction in this disappointingly timid documentary.
Grossman caught this story early, filming the then- 15- year- old in 2018 when she was a lone protester outside the Swedish parliament. While his camera catches her dizzying rise to the head of a global movement, it always keeps a tactful distance from its subject.
That is understandable. For much of his film, Thunberg is a vulnerable child and Grossman wouldn’t want to supply her army of attackers with fresh ammunition.
But by adopting a purely observational stance as we follow her across Europe and then the Atlantic to berate audiences, his film feels short on revelations.
We see a fair bit of her dad Svante but only get a couple of glimpses of her mum, the singer Malena Ernman. She represented Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2009 and gave up flying and thus her career to placate her daughter. But the film fails to mention any of this. Perhaps Grossman feared that turning his film into a human interest piece would detract from the seriousness of his subject.
But he’s equally reticent when it comes to explaining the science behind global warming, which was precisely what transformed a shy girl with Asperger’s into a modern- day Joan Of Arc. However, even from a distance, Greta comes across as a fascinating and hugely impressive young woman. She views her Asperger’s diagnosis as a superpower.
After an adult poses a clumsily phrased question about her “condition”, her quickfire retort is: “I didn’t say I suffered.” Her dad is clearly devoted to her but you can guess why he looks so exhausted.
IMPRESSIVE: Fearless climate change activist Greta Thunberg