No meat, no fish, no electricity, no heat, no cars, no subways, no elevators, no disposable containers, no toilet paper, no shopping for new clothes, no food from more than 250 miles away. Which leaves…a whole lot of biking, charades, and cornmeal porridge. Although No Impact Man (né Colin Beavan), a 43-year-old middle-class writer living in Manhattan, has never considered himself much of an environmentalist, he decides to embark on a yearlong journey of zero environmental footprint, dragging his wife and 2-year-old daughter along for the ride. Why? The hate mail and blogs call it shameless self-promotion—a gimmick to drum up material (and sales) for his next book. Beavan himself doubts his motives at times, but he also believes he’s inspiring (less drastic) action in others. And for the most part, he enjoys himself, bonding with his daughter as they stomp their laundry in a bathtub and try out the new cloth diapers. The same can’t be said of his wife (“it’s easy for Colin; it’s murder for me”), a shopaholic and desperate caffeine addict (remember, no coffee plants in the Tri-State Region), whose outrageous binge before the experiment includes a $975 pair of boots. Perhaps the greatest sacrifice for the Beavans is giving up reality TV—something of an irony, since in its weaker moments, the film devolves into a reality show itself, featuring several long and intimate conversations about whether or not the couple should have another baby. But for the most part, No Impact Man is invigorating, enlightening, and more than a little inspirational.
At 4:45 p.m.; also at 9 p.m. on Sat., June 20 at AFI Silver Theatre.