DVD Review: ‘Trashed’

Having, for one reason or another, missed out on the opportunity of a UK theatrical run, British writer-director Candida Brady’s 2012 human waste exposé Trashed makes its way onto DVD this week courtesy of the piece’s producers, Blenheim Films. With the star power of Academy Award-winning narrator and host Jeremy Irons (Dead Ringers) a primary draw, this is certainly one of the better environmentally-minded documentaries released over the last few years, whilst still falling just short of going toe-to-toe with the likes of Jeff Orlowski’s seminal Sundance favourite and Oscar nominee Chasing Ice (2012).

In Trashed, Irons sets out to discover the impact that humanity’s rising food consumption, coupled with archaic waste disposal methods such as unsightly landfills and industrial incinerators, are having upon the our planet. From the beaches of South Wales to the jungles of Vietnam, Iron experiences first-hand the damage that waste – and the harmful dioxins produced as a bi-product – are having upon the health or nearby communities. What’s more, it’s not only human beings that are suffering as a result of our new obsession with disposable plastics. In the oceans, fish, turtles and sea mammals are all falling victim to clouds of floating micro-particles, infiltrating the food chain with catastrophic results.

Whilst unlikely to maintain the timeless appeal of an Al Gore/Michael Moore call-to-arms (whether that’s necessarily appealing is, of course, debatable), Brady’s Trashed certainly makes its point – and makes it well. Irons is a perfect compare, as erudite as he is comical, especially when bothering bovines (“Hi, I’m Jeremy Irons. Do you mind if I look at your cows?”, he exclaims to one bemused farmer), and carries his own unique blend of disapproval/naïveté with aplomb. Similarly successful is the film’s wandering spirit, packing Irons off to a multitude of contrasting countries and cultures in order to express the truly global nature of the waste dilemma.

Though an original score from of-Blade Runner-fame Greek composer Vangelis adds little, and the aforementioned globetrotting style can work against the film’s overall coherence (several sequences feel slightly redundant), Trashed is the type of documentary that’s pulled through by its subject matter. Along with a key contribution from a surprisingly playful Irons, Brady’s think-piece does at least do what so many other recent comparables have failed to do – put forward a viable manifesto for realistic and achievable change.

Daniel Green