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Now Something Is Slowly Changing review – a cold hard look at personal growth | Movies

Menna Laura Meijer’s documentary is an intriguing, if distinctly refrigerated, look at the various ways in which people in the Netherlands are coached in personal growth and mindfulness. The movie is a series of tableaux, with the various study sessions and encounter groups shot from a distance in a fixed camera position, very rarely cutting to a closeup. The movie washes every scene with an invigoratingly cold, clear light and there is an elegant visual and compositional sense in every frame.

We see quarterlife crisis coaching and leadership training with horses; people learn emotional focus and centredness by lying down in a barnyard stroking some very clean-looking pigs. Cops learn not to react to provocation through role-playing. People learn how to take ownership of their emotions so their emotions do not take ownership of them. There is tree climbing to overcome fear and some (eminently sensible) tutoring in fall prevention for senior citizens.

But oddly, the most potent moment comes when a lecturer on sports psychology shows some coaches a very emotional motivational video created by former hockey star Marc Lammers, all about British track star Derek Redmond who tore a hamstring at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics during the 400m semi-final. Limping in agony, the sprinter insisted on trying to make it round the track, finally crossing the line in circumstances which made him and his family a legend long after the winners were forgotten.

This video, with its emotional button-pushing, couldn’t be more different from Meijer’s coolly detached approach – and yet it actually upstages the rest of the film. The coaches watching were clearly choked up; I was choked up myself. As for the rest, it is certainly well made: but the issue of whether these people really are actually changing, slowly or otherwise, remains an enigma.

Now Something Is Slowly Changing is released on 30 December on True Story.

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Photo by Xu Haiwei on Unsplash