Initial thoughts about the documentary Human Flow is that it sounds a bit sexual. Don’t laugh, you thought so too.
I quickly realized (because I read a plot description) that is only sort of had to do with sex. You see, sex leads to pregnancies, and pregnancies usually lead to babies, and babies usually lead to adults. And sometimes there are too many adults. Sometimes these adults are mean, rude, or ruthless. Sometimes adults force other adults (and babies!) to leave their homes due to force, threats, or just general hysteria. These adults (that were made by sex) now find themselves homeless and on the move, looking for a place to call home as their previous home was torn apart by terrorists, warlords, and drones.
These adults, and tiny adults, and babies, are now refugees, and fleeing the world. However, with the amount of angry adults there are, the refugee amounts are growing at extreme levels. These refugees need places to go, and the places to go are filling up quickly. This is leading to stricter border control measures, more fences, and now refugees are finding themselves between countries. Sure, there may be countries available for these refugees to go to, but if they have no way to get there due to the other country walls, then it is as if they don’t exist at all.
So yes. In a way, Human Flow is a justified, sexual, title.
What would be sexier if a city planner got in on one of these tent cities.
The director, Ai Weiwei, goes to great pains to make sure this isn’t some exploitation documentary, where he would gain acclaim, fame, money, off of the suffering of hundreds of thousands of individuals. He seems to be a man who truly cares about their plight and is using this documentary to help get the world to understand what is going on in their lives.
In fact, we get to see Weiwei on camera, interacting with the refugees, getting some personal stories, exchanging passports even. That passport scene was absolutely heart wrenching for me, and it must have been terrible for the director and crew to be there. We have all of these people who want homes for their families, doctors for their new babies for vaccinations, things like soap, and in comes a crew of people making money and able to leave whenever they want. Of course they would latch onto that group, because hey, if there is a wall in their way, they will do whatever they can to protect their families.
Unfortunately, outside of a few select scenes of interest, the documentary felt incredibly boring. It was hard to get through, and still hard to be empathetic to their flight, maybe due to the sheer number of people and how numbed I am through the news. But it felt like a chore to get through, with an over 2 hour run time. It just dragged.
Basically, if it wants to get people involved with this thing, it has to get the common man more excited and riled up during it. They needed to make it sexier, at least the introduction or something. I spent a lot of time talking about how technically, this is a sexy topic. But when watching it, it feels entirely unsexy, and that is something they need to work on in the future.
2 out of 4.