Movie review of “Time to Choose”: Filmmaker Charles Ferguson makes a compelling case in this documentary for the linkage between corrupt power and damage to the environment and human health while also spreading a bit of hope. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.

Share story

This frightening yet hopeful documentary cautions us to choose a future that rejects old-guard industries in fossil fuels and chemically driven big agriculture. Given the film’s staggering, sickening evidence of environmental devastation, severe economic inequality, worker and consumer diseases and the political corruption that makes these problems persist, it can be hard to feel any optimism.

But “Time to Choose,” narrated by Oscar Isaac and featuring global activists (such as Jane Goodall) and California’s Gov. Jerry Brown, is perfectly aware of its overwhelming subject matter. That’s why filmmaker Charles Ferguson spends time demonstrating how the business of renewable energy — particularly solar and wind — is here to stay.

That’s encouraging, but Ferguson (“Inside Job”) makes such a thorough, clear and compelling case for the relationship between entrenched power (corporate, government) and shortsighted, profit-driven destruction of human health and natural resources that it is almost tempting to surrender.

Movie Review ★★★  

‘Time to Choose,’ with Jerry Brown, Jane Goodall, narrated by Oscar Isaac. Directed by Charles Ferguson, from a screenplay by Ferguson and Chad Beck. 97 minutes. Not rated; suitable for mature audiences. Some subtitles for occasional hard-to-understand English. Guild 45th.

There’s no getting around shocking visual evidence that we have cheapened life to enrich a few. Overhead shots of so-called containment areas for the sludgy, toxic runoff from coal production in Appalachia — poison visibly leeching into a major river and streams — is sickening. Images of an impoverished, “Waterworld”-like town in Nigeria, where residents see no benefit from the oil wealth lining their leaders’ pockets, is practically apocalyptic.

Ferguson shows footage, too, of vast areas of deforestation in Brazil, a practice allowing billionaire soy growers to meet worldwide demand. A similar appetite for corn syrup, ubiquitous in processed and fast foods, is turning kids everywhere into diabetics.

“Time to Choose” tells us all is not lost — yet. But the hour is late.