Simplification is key to unlocking happiness. That much is thrown at us almost immediately in The Minimalists: Less is Now. A sequel to a documentary on minimalism is too much of a good thing, is it not? Yes indeed, but Matt D’Avella is bound to refute the principles of “less is more” should the opportunity to pick up a camera strike again. More documentaries on minimalism. Quite the hypocritical stance to take considering the obvious. While the world revolves and cash is exchanged, there are those wishing to defy the system, taking it upon themselves to live free, clean and clear of entertainment, products and experiences.
We are addicted to things, apparently. It is not an addiction to want nice things, nor is it a lapse in judgment to own good books, great films, and interesting art. Minimalism, or at least, this feature documentary, frowns upon that. I am not against minimalism. In theory, it is a grand idea. Declutter your life for a clear mind. But a lack of clutter does not remove the issues of the day, the larger moments that will chip away at confidence and self-esteem. We rely on items and objects to fill the mediocrity or pessimistic pockets of life. Owning a library of literature, motion pictures and music allows a physical showcase of culture, not clutter.
“To live a simple life, it takes a lot of work,” what, then, is the point? If minimalism is the streamlining of simplicity, why bother if it is harder work than to live a regular life? Factoids about advertising and the billion-dollar capitalist industry are interlaced too, for no good reason. Lots of research is conducted and presented to an audience who have no choice or say over how it works and why. Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus turn on the waterworks and use an emotional blockade to try and cope with their reasons for utilising minimalism. Soon, it devolves into a shoddy, sloppy commentary on poverty and capitalism. They have no clue what they are talking about. There is research, biased, but research at least. As much a documentary on minimalism as it is on space travel. D’Avella tries to link poverty with the choice of minimalism, a choice that makes sense on the surface but makes for achingly dull viewing.
Ironic it may be that a documentary on minimalism is cluttered and overbearing, there is a loss of simplicity early on, and D’Avella never regains this ground. He displays no confidence in the practice of his and his subjects’ life. That, or he fails to present a convincing argument for living a plain and simple life. Can we live better, with less? No. How would I write such a scathing review if I’m told to throw away my keyboard and type it on my phone? It is well-intended at times, but The Minimalists: Less Is Now and its subjects come across as horridly pretentious, stating they have “achieved everything I ever wanted,” and are happy with simplicity when they have barely hit thirty. Dream big champ, the sky is the limit. No point in giving up so far from the end. But then again, when life is so simple, big plans shy away from the spotlight.