BECOMING COUSTEAU (COUSTEAU)
(director:Liz Garbus; screenwriters: Mark Monroe, Pax Wassermann; editor: Pax Wassermann; music: Danny Bensi/ Saunder Jurriaans; cast: Vincent Cassel (Narrator), Jacques-Yves Cousteau; Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers; Liz Garbus, Dan Cogan, Mridu Chandra, Evan Hayes: Picturehouse; 2021)
“It’s a sincere effort.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An informative and straightforward documentary on the legendary French diver and explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who died in 1997 (was born in 1910), as it chronicles his life (who originally wanted to be a Naval pilot) and was an advocate to save the environment.
It’s directed by Liz Garbus (“Love, Marilyn”/”What Happened, Miss Simone?”) and is written by Mark Monroe and Pax Wassermann. The film uses archival footage, audio files and segments from Cousteau’s diaries–read in a voiceover by Vincent Cassel. Cousteau is also known for his long-running iconic ABC television series The Undersea World of Jacques Coustea, which ran in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The series popularized him and his research boat the Calypso, the one he used for excursions since the 1950s.
Garbus does a good job showing how in the 1960s Cousteau began to speak up about climate change and saving the environment issues he ignored in the 1950s. The director shows him as an activist for the environment and an educator of the public on those issues. Without being preachy, Garbus shows how sincere was Cousteau in dedicating his life to help save the environment.
It makes no bones about some short-comings Cousteau had over family value issues in his personal life, as the work-alcoholic left some things out in his married life that he probably shouldn’t have. In any case, his wife Simone was instrumental in operating his ship along with his two sons, Philippe and Jean-Michel. The film shows that Philippe was committed to his dad’s work but at the young age of 38 was tragically killed in a plane crash in 1979.
In 1990, Simone died of cancer. Cousteau wasted no time and married Francine Triplet (who he already had two kids with).
It’s a sincere effort, offering a plea that efforts to save the environment must be encouraged.
The film was presented by National Geographic, and shows Cousteau’s message is more urgent now than ever.
REVIEWED ON 10/24/2021 GRADE: A-