Review: Metamorphosis is a proactive doc about climate change

Canadian-made documentary sidesteps the ugliness of human impact on the earth in favour of capturing nature's resilience


METAMORPHOSIS (Nova Ami, Velcrow Ripper). 85 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (June 8). See listing. Rating: NNN


Metamorphosis starts off as a visual meditation on the existential implications of climate change, but gradually morphs into a social change documentary designed to spur audience action.

You can’t blame Canadian filmmakers Nova Ami and Velcrow Ripper for this sleight of hand, given their topic usually equals box office or ratings death. Taking the plight of the vulnerable-but-resilient monarch butterfly as its central metaphor, the film pairs narration by artists, scientists, landscape designers and activists with strangely beautiful drone footage of landscapes scarred by forest fires and cyclones.

Once the film has grieved what is lost, it shifts in its second half to action, spending less time on sweeping aerial views in order to zoom into cities where activists are rethinking urban design: garden pools, vertical forests, solar panels for low-income residents. This is a film that sidesteps the ugliness of human impact on the earth in favour of capturing nature’s inspiring resilience while slipping in a few hard truths (the world will run out of top soil in 60 years).

We still need to act if nature is going to bounce back. By setting most of Metamorphosis in drought-ridden California and Europe, the directors implicitly suggest Canada is lagging in urban innovation without wagging a finger at viewers.

kevinr@nowtoronto.com | @kevinritchie

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