With only the technician in the auditorium, I ended up receiving a private screening of the Southampton International Film Festival’s final screening of day 3 of the festival, Choice Point. Unfortunately, I can’t say that this was a piece of documentary cinema that I particularly enjoyed. Too long, too repetitive, and really rather sickly, its Best Documentary nomination is something I can’t really get my head around.
The film concerns itself with the titular concept of the choice point in human lives. The choice point is the moment at the end of a cycle within your life when you have a window of opportunity to make significant changes to your personal being. The documentary structures itself around the lives of admittedly fairly inspiring individuals who took that opportunity to change. Now whilst I have no inherent issue with the concept of human beings having the capacity to change and carve out their own destinies, it is when the film starts delving into pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo and contradicting its own ideals that I begin to take notice.
Throughout the movie, the audience are subjected to interviews with “professionals” who talk about patterns in nature and patterns within the universe and that, once we align our own purpose with the patterns and purpose of the surrounding world, we will have the power to elicit significant global change. First and foremost I take issue with this idea that patterns in nature are inherently linked to our psycho-spiritual wellbeing. None of the “expert opinions” seem to provide any actual evidence that our innermost selves are inextricably connected to the world around us. Quite frankly, it seems like they are just thrown in to make the ideology of the film as a whole appear to have any concrete credibility.
In addition to this, the stories of the individuals in the films are very much concerned with how they were dissatisfied in their lives and consequently carved out a new destiny for themselves. This is an idea that I was beginning to come around to. But then they started talking about how everyone is intimately entwined with their surroundings and that everyone has a true purpose that they have to find. The way in which the film approaches the topic makes it sound as though everyone has a predetermined purpose that it is their job to go out and find, but doesn’t this contradict the previously asserted human sense of agency in which they can choose their own adventure?
This was the second film of the day that really didn’t need to be as long as it was, and became excessively preachy as a result. Call me a cynic, but by the time it had reasserted that the greatest power of all is the power of love for your fellow human beings for the hundredth time, I was ready to go out and punch a baby just to prove it wrong. And its final essential point that if you don’t agree with them then you’re just scared of change I found really rather insulting. Not a film I would recommend any time soon.
Choice Point (2013) screened at the Southampton International Film Festival in October 2013.