(Originally posted on bcotoronto.com on Aug 2nd, 2012)
This week I would like to review another health documentary with you and give you my two cents worth. Hungry For Change is a very well researched film about how our bodies reacts to food and modern, Western food culture. It does this mainly through interviews with experts in the field, which ends up being a lot of talking heads but it does not stay on one person for long and gives you multiple opinions on the same point. This is split up by a storyline about a woman caught up in a modern lifestyle feeling stuck and discovering each of these ideas as the experts are discussing them.
The personification of this journey makes the information a little more accessible to the audience but is fairly cheesy and over the top at some points. What they were attempting to do was create a character who was completely caught up in Western culture where she was overly conscious of her figure (despite being a healthy weight) and focused on men. In essence they portrayed the “stereotype”. This was to make a point that this could be anyone but it left the character a little two dimensional and harder to relate with for me.
Despite the contextualization of the information in the story there was still a significant risk of information overload in most audience members. There is a lot of information thrown at you during the film and there is very little organization to it that would help to compartmentalize the facts and increase retention. Many documentaries use this tactic to allow the audience to brace themselves for a new part of the puzzle with just the addition of simple titles to turn one long stream of information into chapters that slowly add up. This film went for flowing narrative over separate waves but I found that some of the sections blurred into one another a little too much which made you have to stop and think about what had been said for the last five minutes to sort out how it all relates to each other again and where the switch happened.
That being said, I think this film did an amazing job at covering an immense topic thoroughly and understandably. They went much farther than I had expected at the beginning. They started by talking about the evolutionary basis for the human diet and how modern “Western” foods are not meeting it any more. Then they covered the industrial/commercial side of agribusiness with additives, regulation, and advertizing of foods in today’s society. Next they transitioned into a large section on the effects of food on our bodies, both good and bad, and then the social aspects of food and dieting.
The next section was the pleasantly unexpected part for me. They covered the mental and emotional side of our relationship with food. Talking about stress, sleep, laughter, and visualization techniques and their effect on our digestion and natural physical mechanisms gave this film a complete feeling for me. They did not just talk about food as being separate from us they discussed and explored both sides of that relationship and how we can lead healthy lives with simple habits and exercises, both mental and physical. This is often overlooked when this type of information is presented to the public and I think it is wonderful that it was added in here.
I found that Hungry For Change was incredibly motivating, even for someone like me who knows most of the information already. It was filled with good quotations to put up on your fridge to drive you to new heights every day and tips on how to get started on your own nutritional journey. Many of the experts had either personal or professional stories of discovering these truths about food and coming into better health through diet and lifestyle changes.
The general feel of the film was not one of accusation like many others are but one of guidance towards better health. There was a lot of encouragement expressed throughout the movie. The audience was given reason after reason to follow the suggestions from the experts but no one forced these things in your face. They simply said, “If you think this is important, try this.” It was very laid back and felt like a conversation rather than a moralistic lesson.
I may have a few problems with the film but overall it is a great movie with lots of amazing information and is incredibly motivating. Everyone should watching this documentary and take its message to heart but to do that you unfortunately need a notepad to take it all down.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. – If you have a documentary that you would like me to review on this site please leave a comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.