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Who Killed the Electric Car? | Review

America Unplugged

Doc might not be labeled as controversial but it might get some folks fuming.

It’s a modern murder mystery that features multiple motives, corruption by people in power and is tied to oil, money, greed and power. The victim – a slick, slender, curvy creation that made members of both sexes foam at the mouth. It goes by the name of General Motors’ EV1 and to a group of unlucky California it was a love affair that didn’t last long enough. Part of a reemergence of documentary films that follow bad politics and offer a cause for social concern, Who Killed the Electric Car? is an easy watch that decisively positions itself on the one side of the debate, unfortunately Chris Paine brings a passiveness to a heated argument to the tale of the almost mythic existence of a car.

Not long ago Michael Moore’s Roger & Me questioned the moral and ethical lack of insight in an American car manufacturer, and here we are less than 2 decades later asking the same sort of questions of why everyone in the chain of command are out there to serve not the people but the pockets of corporations. Paine begins comically with a filmed sequence of a funeral for owners of the most promising non-polluting personal vehicle to exist since sailboats, hot air balloons and bicycles. Paine’s doc is comprised of talking heads, assembled footage and pro-lefty citizen of the earth Martin Sheen narrates this tale of David vs. Goliath.

Obvious arrow-points are positioned like darts to show how the federal government, the Bush administration, the automakers and the gas companies are all culprits in the destruction of the carbon dioxide supply, the most interesting point here is the history lesson on a vehicle that many probably never knew existed – and this was only 6 years back! Paine pampers the film with a bunch of celebrity owners and a former employee who was a firm believer in the product – they offer not much interest in the overall discussion at hand but it informs us that Mel Gibson has got a great multi-color and lengthy beard going. Apart from pointing to the obvious addiction for oil, what might have been an interesting inclusion is to examine the collective unconscious populous that make the bigger portion of the American society with a debate on critical thinking approach versus advertising dependencies.

Less stylized than Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and less empowering than the pro-environment An Inconvenient Truth, Who Killed the Electric Car? certainly demonstrates the suffocating effects of having industry decide what a consumer’s needs are and not the other way around. One thing is for sure, you might look at the gas-guzzler you’ve got parked in the driveway through less of a glittery point of view knowing that the current administration in the White House continue with their bullets and lack of ingenuity dominating the agenda. Global economies – specifically car manufacturers in Japan, China and Europe are all too happy to make great strides at giving the consumer what they really want.

Rating 2 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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