Hot Docs review: Assholes: A Theory

John Walker's film is a thoughtful accounting of society’s most obnoxious people


ASSHOLES: A THEORY (John Walker, Canada). 81 minutes. Rating: NNN


Using Aaron James’s 2012 book as a jumping-off point, Walker (Quebec: My Country, Mon Pays, Arctic Defenders, A Drummer’s Dream) builds a mostly serious look at the preponderance of privileged, entitled jerks (almost always male, almost always white) who bully their way to positions of dominance in Western society.

It’s a thoughtful accounting of society’s most noxious people, balancing psychology and anecdotal shit-talking, with special loathing reserved for financial-sector hustlers, blustering faux-populist politicians and surfers who cut into other surfers’ waves… which was what inspired James to write his book in the first place.

It’s maybe not as funny as Walker wants it to be – a burbly jazz score tries very hard to force some lightness into the material – but it’ll leave you thinking about the assholes in your life, and whether you’re being one right now. 

Apr 30, 7 pm, TIFF 1 May 1, 3:45 pm, TIFF 1 May 4, 12:45 pm, Isabel Bader

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