Another strident, guilt-inducing eco-doc from the same distributor as ‘The Vanishing of the Bees’ and other such films, ‘Crude’ explores the efforts of two mismatched characters – small-town rural advocate Pablo Fajardo and New York legal eagle Steve Donziger – to bring a class-action lawsuit against oil giant Texaco for a series of alleged ecological crimes against the land and people of Amazonian Ecuador. But this is more than a simple David v Goliath tale, as director Joe Berlinger widens his scope to examine the impact of cultural change on agrarian folk struggling to keep up.
In 2004, Berlinger unleashed the hilarious but outrageously indulgent two-and-a-half-hour moanfest, ‘Metallica: Some Kind of Monster’, on a startled world; ‘Crude’ feels like his bid to turn his undoubted talents to a more righteous and timely cause. It’s a bleak, necessarily incomplete tale, and suffers from a late intrusion by celebrity eco-botherer Trudi Styler. But with this gripping, angry film, Berlinger has put himself back on the side of the angels.