Monière’s documentary XeNation?: Abundance was a frustrating film to watch, to be perfectly honest with you. Delivered with very little subtlety, the documentary bombards you with information, often in the form of context-less rants, about everything from genetically modified food to the power of preprocessed chocolate to the exploration of a raw food diet to exercise to deep breathing, all with a classical music soundtrack.
At the center of the film, acting as our onscreen guide, is Marcus Patrick Osborne, an extremely fit and good looking guy who obviously lives everything that everyone seems to be preaching at the camera. To that end, yeah, he’s a great example that, if you maybe absorb some of the info being tossed at you in this film, perhaps you too can be as healthy as he is.
Which is great, but he seems to know that too, and he slowly cultivates a sanctimonious aura about him. By the time the film shows him “debating” with an older, overweight man, it seems less like a healthy guy trying to help his fellow man out and more like a man who can’t leave a conversation until the person he’s talking to admits that he’s right. It seems less like a sharing of ideas, and more like an attempt at forced conversion.
For the most part, though, Marcus isn’t the one doing all the talking and, for much of the first 10 minutes, lots of different people are doing the talking, but the audience isn’t given any information on who they are. By the time onscreen titles show up in the film to start putting names to the ranting faces, I was already starting to get overwhelmed.
And titles here aren’t enough. Just because it says someone is a doctor, and they’re talking about alkaloids and the like with authority, doesn’t mean I’m just going to buy what they’re selling. Doctor of what, exactly? I’m not asking for an in-depth bio of every speaking face in the film, but maybe some more background would be appropriate, especially for someone like Dr. Robert Cassar, who gets a lot of screentime and whose ideas seem to be the most repeated.
Now, I know this sounds like I’m hating on the film, but that’s not how I feel about it. This isn’t hate, it’s a case of frustration. I can’t dismiss many of the notions or ideas expressed in the film, nor would I want to, but the way the message is delivered makes it very hard to take it in.
Which brings up another interesting aspect of the film, in that for most of it I would say it feels like propaganda for the ideals and lifestyles expressed, but then interview subjects will say something to contradict, or bring into question, some of those ideas. Then you have to wonder if there is something bigger going on here with this film than just endorsing the ideas onscreen, and is it more self-aware than I’m giving it credit for being? That brings up a whole new consideration for the film, that is interesting, but also, again, frustrating.
According to the website for XeNation?: Abundance, this is just one of a series of films with Marcus Patrick Osborne, covering various aspects of life (this one was focused on food). While I am curious about some of ideas expressed in this film, I can’t say I’d be all that enthused about watching another film in this series, especially if it is presented in the same way. Perhaps if future films focused on a few ideas with real depth rather than throwing a bunch of ideas and cramming in soundbites, I’d be swayed otherwise, but this was just too much to process at once. Which, again, maybe the joke’s on me; the film is called Abundance, afterall.
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