Director John Webster avoids being totally plastic in Recipes For Disaster.
RECIPES FOR DISASTER (John Webster). 85 minutes. Partially subtitled. Screens Wednesday (January 14), 6:30 and 9:15 pm, at the Bloor (506 Bloor West). Rating: NNNN
Can one man and his family save the world at the cost of their creature comforts? And would they want to?
In October 2006, Anglo-Finnish filmmaker John Webster decided to put his family on what he called "an oil diet," eliminating all plastics and products derived from fossil fuels from their household.
Webster and his wife, Anu, agreed they'd keep their existing plastic products, including their camcorder. That turned out to be a smart move; without that, he would have been unable to shoot Recipes For Disaster, which provides an invaluable record of the experiment and its toll on the Websters.
At first, it's kind of fun. Webster, Anu and their two young sons learn to make their own toothpaste (which doesn't taste so great) and reduce their carbon footprint by leaving the car at home and travelling by public transit.
But gradually, cracks begin to show, and even though Webster tries to steer his movie away from anything too personal - frequently cutting away to interviews and light-hearted illustrations of the risks of climate change - the most fascinating thing about Recipes For Disaster is the creeping sense that Webster's decision to declare his home a plastic-free zone was a manic impulse that put his marriage at risk.
Watching Webster and Anu snipe at each other over the carbon footprint of toothpaste and measuring spoons is really disturbing. Could we do any better? Are we brave enough to try?