Richard Dawkins (left) and Lawrence Krauss deserve a more balanced and complex film.
THE UNBELIEVERS (Gus Holwerda). 77 minutes. Opens Friday (February 7). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNN
Biologist Richard Dawkins and physicist Lawrence Krauss are the rock stars of the atheist movement, travelling the world to debate religious fundamentalists and deliver rational, well-argued speeches about finding meaning in the very meaninglessness of a world without gods.
Gus Holwerda's upbeat doc mostly focuses on the pair's tour of Australia, where they speak at the Sydney Opera House and a number of colleges despite some minor agitation from Christian and Muslim protesters.
It's weird to feel unfulfilled by a documentary about people with whom I absolutely agree, but Holwerda's desire to package Dawkins and Krauss's ideas in a slick, fast-moving presentation works against the pair's conversational rhythms - to say nothing of what it does to their more complex arguments.
Everything's chopped down to a rallying cry, reducing the conflict between secular and theological positions to a simplistic us-versus-them argument that only one side deserves to win.
If you're already on that side, you can come away feeling empowered. But painting the opposition as blinkered, howling idiots doesn't really help. It might feel satisfying in the editing suite, but it doesn't serve anyone in the long run, even the film itself.