Today we conclude our weeklong celebration of environmental movies.
A River Changes Course (2013)
In select theaters now
A River Changes Course is an eloquent, dispassionate departure from environmental documentaries as polemics against our sins.
The film quietly follows three Cambodian people whose lives are repetitive, physical, and hard. Yet filmmaker Kalyanee Mam seems interested in capturing the perspectives of individuals operating within a developing nation, not steering any conversation that may follow. The film has no voice over, with sparse dialogue translated via subtitles, and a score that yields to the quotidian sounds of winnowing rice or the buzz of a sewing machine.
Mam wordlessly trails Sari Math operating a skiff as he fishes with his father, Khieu Mok, grinning as she learns to operate a sewing machine, and Sav Samourn bathing with her children in a pool of clay-colored water.
Math — often shown sprawled on the floor, scribbling in a notebook — later leaves his family to work on a cassava plantation. Fish catches are dwindling, and Math’s father pushes him to the plantation to earn money for the family.