'Man Vs Trash': Montreal Review

Man Vs Trash Still - H 2014
Courtesy of The World Film Festival Montreal

Man Vs Trash Still - H 2014

A dump of a doc.

The filmmaker spent a year and a half in a landfill

MONTREAL — Proof that having a camera and the willingness to waste a year and a half watching something doesn't by itself make you a documentarian, Martin Esposito's Man Vs Trash is a juvenile cri de coeur about the amount of garbage we produce and what we do with it. A few of the things Esposito stumbled upon in his 18 months spent at a French dump would make provocative shorts in someone else's hands, but in this form, they'll get about as much exposure as the truckful of still-shrinkwrapped magazines through which the young man paws.

Using so much onscreen text that you might incorrectly expect some kind of context, the film vaguely asserts that Esposito grew up near this Cote d'Azur trash dump and became obsessed with it after returning to his hometown. He even moves in for a while, camping in a shed in which he used to play and scribbling angrily in a journal; in one angst-drenched montage, we seem to be looking at the next Unabomber in the making.

More often, though, Esposito simply walks along the trucks that supply this heap, marveling in a continuous faux-astonishment at what spills out of them and getting closer to dangerous debris than anyone should. He picks through the good and the gross, from syringes and feces to heaps of unused consumer-goods packaging. (Hey Adidas, you can't recycle that?) More than once, he unwraps and eats groceries that haven't yet reached their sell-by date; more than once, he vomits more dodgy food up before our eyes.

Given the location, it's unsurprising (if shameful) that the Cannes Film Festival is one of the dump's big contributors, and Esposito's most intriguing find is acres and acres of red carpet. Trying to make the most of this, he showers and heads to the fest, where workers claim they lay a brand new carpet for each screening's entrance. So much for a banner we see that touts the fest's "plan of action for the planet."

Production company: Mother and Son
Director-Screenwriter-Editor: Martin Esposito
Music: Patrick Brugalieres
Sales: Wide House
No rating, 71 minutes