Once You Know (2022) Review
Once You Know is a serious and mournful acknowledgement of the arrival of the climate crisis.
Instead of focusing on doom and gloom for humanity in the future, it starts with an acceptance that the consequences of climate change are already here, that the collapse of the environment is inevitable. Capitalism and the need for limitless growth will always cause depletion and decay, no matter the projection.
This documentary is centred around several interviews, offering many different perspectives on how the climate crisis is impacting people. A stand out is with Bangladeshi climate scientist Saleemul Huq, who explains that an “emotional trigger point” needs to be found for every individual in order to get a response - the phenomenon needs to feel personal, in order to serve as a call to action.
A grounded approach is kept throughout, with major world events touched on only slightly. Even when it does bring in more monumental aspects, such as the Paris Agreement, it does so from an individual perspective - following the challenges of getting compensation from major polluters.
This is an important, sobering reality check for viewers, reminding them that the world may well have entered a period of no return
The choice to keep the camera time running in the corner of the screen helps to situate the audience in the documentary, as though they are the ones filming. It gives off a natural feel, as though it is being shot right before our eyes, helping to bring through a real intimacy to what is ultimately a colossal event.
Once You Know’s runtime is a slight downside, however. At 1h45, the documentary demands a significant chunk of your attention. This creates a barrier of entry to those wishing to watch. The overall message of the film is quite harrowing, and when it is repeated several times it can weigh quite heavily on the viewer’s mind.
Overall, though, this is an important, sobering reality check for viewers, reminding them that the world may well have entered a period of no return. For our own survival, society needs to radically shift from the consumer capitalist world of limitless growth, and return to a more localised system, becoming more accepting of the limits that are placed upon us. In short, humanity’s shift needs to be as radical as the film - or else the species will face extinction.