Film Review: Unacceptable Levels - Do You Know What's in Your Water Supply?
DIRECTED BY ED BROWN
Director Ed Brown is not your typical activist, nor is he one of those thought leader types who pretend to have all the answers. As he presents himself in this lively, incisive film, he’s a husband and father who, alarmed by his wife’s two miscarriages and concerned for his young children, began to take a closer look at the chemicals in our water, food supply, and—as a result—our bodies. What he discovers is, of course, alarming: increased levels of just about everything—much of it unchecked. The result has been an explosion of all sorts of chronic illnesses.
“Should I make a film where I confront a bunch of chemical company executives in a parking lot and scream awkward questions at them?” asks Brown. It’s a smart, tough question. He’s not looking for provocation, but thoughtfulness, and the candid nature of such ruminations serves him well. In some ways, Unacceptable Levels is more an indictment of the lack of oversight from the relevant organizations than any screed against corporate America or heavy industry. The people tasked with protecting us, Brown warns, have dropped the ball.
The film features an array of activists, CEOs, writers, scientists, and advocates. The alarm bells they ring, however, are tempered by the fact that Brown eventually goes on to present solutions as well. The film also possesses a sly, welcome wit. Those stylistic touches, as well as the director’s own openness, lend this intriguing documentary a credibility that it otherwise might have lacked. —Bilge Ebiri