The End of Poverty?

The End of Poverty?

2009, NR, 104 min. Directed by Philippe Diaz. Narrated by Martin Sheen.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Dec. 18, 2009

A didactic documentary that covers ground already trampled to death by countless other films, books, magazine articles, and grad-student theses, The End of Poverty? is, in essence, a sort of Capitalism, Colonialism, and Cronyism 101. It hits all the right notes (well, most of them) in the argument against globalization and rampant U.S.-led corporate imperialism, but it rarely supersedes or improves on its pedantic predecessors. This isn't to say that The End of Poverty? is a bad film, per se, but only that it's unlikely to change anyone's mind, be they Rush Limbaugh or Ralph Nader. The film preaches to the proverbial choir most of the time, and when it offers something new – for instance, the idea that all poverty woes can be traced back to 1492 and the discovery and conquering of the Americas by Spain – it slips into theorizing and potentially fuzzy historical and empirical evidence. Diaz loves both his facts and the talking-head interviewees who lend support to them (among the many scientists and global economy wonks on hand are political scientist Susan George, Eric Toussaint of the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt, and New York University professor of economics William Easterly). While the speakers’ many, many arguments against Western colonialism are sound, few offer much along the lines of encouragement, which leaves Diaz to focus on rehashing the already well-documented crimes against humanity committed by everyone from the big pharmaceutical conglomerates to the looters of crude oil, African minerals, and the sort of globalization-sanctioned policies that eviscerate the Third World while fattening the first. Yes, it's enlightening, but this is hardly revelatory news. As narrated by a dour Sheen, Diaz's documentary is more dispiriting than anything, although at times it raises the moral hackles and puts you in exactly the right frame of mind (frustrated, enraged) to ponder the efficacy of tossing a Molotov cocktail through the window of your local Bank of America or McDonald's.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Films
Shadow
Zhang Yimou's period martial arts drama probes the moral grays of life in a royal court

Richard Whittaker, May 17, 2019

The Biggest Little Farm
Country life documentary may be an extended infomercial, but that can't dent its charm

Kimberley Jones, May 17, 2019

More by Marc Savlov
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
Welcome back, Mister Wick: Everyone's favorite merciless killer gets more human and more intriguing

May 17, 2019

Carmine Street Guitars
Spend time with the quiet artisans who make the instruments that rock & roll is built upon

May 10, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

The End of Poverty?, Philippe Diaz

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle