Farmer/artist Karl Mattson wants to protect his daughter, Hollis, in well-intentioned Trouble In The Peace.
TROUBLE IN THE PEACE (Julian T. Pinder). See listings. Rating: N
The eco doc Trouble In The Peace is blowing through town this week, premiering as this month's Doc Soup selection and going straight into a weekend run at the Royal before it airs on TVOntario on Wednesday (March 13). You can wait for the broadcast.
Director Julian T. Pinder tackles the pressing issue of Encana's natural gas pipeline mendacity in rural British Columbia - a topic the NFB previously explored in the affecting and complex Wiebo's War - by basically running it through a Terrence Malick Instagram filter.
Pinder, whose previous documentary, Land, started well but drifted into disorganization, seems completely at sea here, tracking long, sweeping takes of the farmland of Peace River County, BC, with thoughtful audio of Karl Mattson, a farmer and artist who's worried about the long-term health effects on his young daughter of the natural gas wells that may be poisoning the groundwater.
If you've seen Gasland or Wiebo's War, you'll have a sense of what's at stake; if not, you're on your own, since Pinder provides very little in the way of hard information. He opts instead for sombre insinuation and long, thoughtful silences, the better to let us contemplate whatever someone's just said.
Pinder's cinematography is often lovely to look at, but individual shots are allowed to linger far, far too long with no payoff. And the movie's grand finale is almost laughably naive, taking an artist's intentionally simplistic gesture and playing it as though it's some sort of teachable moment for the audience.
Screens tonight (Thursday, March 7) at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, and from Friday (March 8) at the Royal.