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  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Photograph: Tull Stories

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Direct action and a lot of bickering from the UK's own climate crusaders

‘At least we’re trying’ reads one placard as Extinction Rebellion disrupt the goings-on of Shell’s London offices. And really, that’s this doc in cardboard form. Before Covid and George Floyd and Ukraine, XR managed to achieve remarkable things, getting successive cities around the world to declare a ‘climate emergency’, galvanising a generation into action, forcing don’t-want-to-know politicians to listen (or be on camera pretending to, anyway). At the same time, these people really are trying. By the end of the 83 minutes of Rebellion, you’ll want to flush their collective head down the bog. 

At the film’s heart lies the age-old Trotsky versus Stalin methodology debate. Do you engage intellectually, or do you super-glue yourself to a tube train? XR’s own Mr Motivator, farmer Roger Hallam, favours the latter. Hallam emerges as one of those quintessentially British troublemakers, a kind of WhatsApp Wat Tyler. He wants arrests and imprisonment and fuss; everyone else wants inclusion and that their voice to be heard. Unfortunately, the playing-out of these internal factions becomes church-fête-committee very quickly, which does really detract from the importance of XR’s message. Still, their protests brought London to a standstill with mime, a pink yacht and a fire engine full of fake blood, so let’s not forget that.

By the end of Rebellion, you’ll want to flush a few politicians’ heads down the bog 

XR made initial progress because they were politely intractable, largely white and middle-class, and earnestly well intentioned. It’s not their fault that other events have since overtaken them. The real message to take from Rebellion for us in 2022, though, should not be that the planet is still fucked. It’s that this government, this Home Secretary, this police force, see these decent people as such a threat that they want to change the law to make what they do illegal. And if that doesn’t bother you, I doubt rising sea levels do.

In UK cinemas Mar 18 and streaming on Netflix in Apr.

Chris Waywell
Written by
Chris Waywell

Cast and crew

  • Director:Maia Kenworthy, Elena Sánchez Bellot
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