Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things [Review]

The documentary Minimalism is about exactly what you think it’s going to be about; living with less, but having more. You’ll meet a family embracing minimalism, a woman living in a tiny house, and a modern nomad. You’ll hear some personal stories about how getting rid of lots of stuff changed their lives, and how it has made them undoubtedly happier.

But, the film is sure to point out something that is not necessarily the first thing you would associate with minimalism. Author Colin Beavan recalls a conversation with author and sociologist Juliet Schor, where she says, “in some ways, we’re not material enough.”

And you can’t hear a statement like that, embedded in a documentary about minimalism, without listening very carefully to what’s said afterwards. She continues,

“We are too materialistic in the everyday sense of the word, and we are not at all materialistic enough in the true sense of the word. We need to be true materialists, like really care about the materiality of goods.”

Not surprisingly, shortly after this statement the film zooms in on the fast fashion industry and all that comes with it. Again, we hear the emphasis on quality, on caring for what we own and on actually loving what we own, in a very different way from how we lust for things now.

As neuropsychologist Rick Hanson says in the film, “You can never get enough of what you don’t really want”.

You’ll also learn that yes, to some extent, money can buy happiness. Up until $70,000/year. After that, more money does not correlate to well-being or happiness in any way. You’ll also hear several times throughout the film that there’s nothing wrong with consumption – the problem is compulsory consumption. And that will ease your concerns of having to forever deny yourself material things that truly, genuinely make you happy. You’ll see what one of the minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn, packs to bring with him on a 10-month tour across the U.S. You’ll hear about meditation, and marketing.

There wasn’t a single part of Minimalism that didn’t make sense. It is, quite simply, such a logical thing to do. And bits and pieces of minimalism are slowly creeping into our lives. Not just into the lives of hippies or of the unconventional, but into pop culture and into material goods themselves. We see the use of white space more and more in digital media. We see consumers being drawn to brands that look authentic, simplistic, sleek. We see home decor taking a hint from Scandinavian styling. How come? Because we’re tired. We’re over-stimulated and over-bombarded every day. We want a break.

What I particularly liked about the film was that it was absolutely not preachy, and it was not there to convert you to an extremist lifestyle. The interviews were conducted with people who had varying degrees of “stuff”. As previously mentioned, there was a woman who lived in a tiny home (and if you don’t know how tiny, then look into the tiny house movement), but also a family that lived in a relatively average-sized home, and yet they both practiced minimalism in a way that fit for them. It never presented the idea as a competition for who has less, because of course, that’s not at all the point.

There is no single point. There are a million of them, and they are unique to each person who has decided to stop buying themselves into dissatisfaction. I’ve started my minimalist journey through fashion, and it’s inevitably seeping into other parts of my life. After watching this, there’s no stopping me from welcoming minimalism with a big, warm hug.

Will you?


Visit minimalismfilm.com for more information, or see the film on Netflix!

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