A Small Act

2 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Craftily plucking every conceivable heartstring, director Jennifer Arnold recounts a real-life tale of paying it forward: Rescued by the Swedish government, a German-Jewish Holocaust survivor sponsors a poor student in Kenya. The recipient of this generosity advances to Harvard and the U.N., eventually starting his own scholarship fund for middle-schoolers back home. It's an inspiring narrative---as are the interwoven stories of three students hoping to earn that educational gift---but the doc itself is more of a telethon-ready fund-raiser than a work of dramatic reportage. Small acts can make a difference, but systemic problems merit more than silver-bullet solutions---or overly simplistic movies.

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