With all the negativity going on the world, it can be easy to forget to take joy in life’s little pleasures. Gratitude Revealed is a joyful new documentary all about remembering those pleasures, seeing the good in the world, and embracing a positive life outlook even in the gravest of circumstances. Packed with interviews from producers, artists, ex-convicts, farmers, and individuals from all walks of life happily sharing their joys and passions, Gratitude Revealed is a palate-cleanser that will make you remember just how great the world can be.
Gratitude Revealed is a Great Change of Pace
Director Louie Schwartzberg interviews various individuals about what brings them joy in life. We see some have found joy in art, community, farming, mountain-climbing, on-stage performance, and a multitude of other endeavors. Some have had harsh life circumstances, others less so, but the common factor among all of them is that they have embraced themselves, life, and all the goodness it can bring despite its upheavals.
If I had to classify Gratitude Revealed under a genre, it would be “feel-good”. From beginning to end, the doc aspires to give the audience a warm feeling in their hearts and make them see the positive side of life, regardless of circumstance. Unlike many documentaries I’ve seen, Schwartzberg does as little narration as possible, instead allowing his interview subjects to make up a majority of what we hear. Everyone has a different story or point of view on what happiness and gratitude means to them, and given that the film employs a well-rounded collection of interviewees, you feel like you’ve heard every side of things by the end of it.
The Interviewees of Gratitude Revealed Share Their Gratitude
Among the interviews are a renowned television producer, some elderly individuals who still get up on stage and perform dance shows every night, a blind mountain climber, several farmers out in the Midwest, painters (whose gorgeous artwork is often in the frame with them), a group of ex-convicts who have found love, humor, and acceptance among each other, street musicians, and many more. To see each interviewees’ eyes light up when discussing what joy means to them, what they’re grateful for in life despite its hardships will likely leave many with a twinkle in their own eye and cause them to step back and appreciate the good things in their own lives.
The film regularly employs professors and philosophers who inform us that feeling gratitude and happiness in our lives can lead to longer, more fulfilling lives. It also acknowledges that the world we live in now is quite busy, distracting, and technology-driven to the point that we can sometimes forget to step out of the digital realm and smell the roses so to speak. Again, the doc is unabashedly sentimental, but it’s the kind of sentiment that feels genuine rather than manipulative.
This is where the use of individuals of various ages really helps, as we see young kids of today as well as older adults able to discuss what brings them true happiness in their own lives. For some people, that happiness could be found through reading, others it could be playing on the beach, painting, just anything that keeps them active and engaged. I also applaud the film for viewing the natural curiosity that children have about the world as something that should be encouraged. It’s rare a film exists to allow us to bask in the joy of others, so Gratitude Revealed stands out proudly for doing just that.
Gratitude Revealed Has One Thing I’m Not Thankful For
If I had to nitpick one thing about Gratitude Revealed, it would be that the film isn’t so much a journey with its filmmaker as it is a collection of interviews with others. As I have stated several times now, these interviews are quite life-affirming, but oftentimes make the director feel pushed into the background. It’s not necessarily a negative, but we go so long without seeing the filmmaker at the helm of the project that I almost forgot he was there at times. Despite that, the film’s point about being grateful and finding ones’ own personal joy in life comes through, and even better it’s all done in a clean 80 minutes.
This was a much-needed breath of fresh air this year, to see people who are genuinely happy in their lives despite their hardships made me smile and left my heart a little warmer, and any film that does that is a win as far as I’m concerned. Gratitude Revealed is a happy, joy-inducing documentary that will inspire you to appreciate all the good things you have in your life. See it.
3.5 out of 5 stars (above average)
Gratitude Revealed is in theaters now.
What did you think of Gratitude Revealed? Did it inspire you? What was your favorite life story from the documentary? Let us know in the comments below and on our Twitter.