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The Cost of Living Documentary Film Review

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

★★★★ Stars


The Cost of Living is a documentary, written by Sean Blacknell and Wayne Walsh, which explores the idea of a basic income being implemented in the United Kingdom and if it has the capability of remedying the current socio-economic state of Britain.

The overall writing of this documentary is absolutely wonderful, possessing many lines that strike the heart and heighten the senses. This film came to me as a wake up call as the in-depth information provided to audience members isn’t necessarily something that one would hear from news services on a daily basis. No one is blind to the increase in poverty and homelessness in the U.K. but, without the solid facts stated by professionals like the individuals in this film, it is difficult to understand why such an increase is occurring and, in turn, difficult to find ways to take action. The Cost of Living covers all bases in regards to the idea of a basic income, as well as invokes immense feelings of empathy – especially through the short narrations between interviews linking to the topic.

“Survival, at the very least, shouldn’t have a price tag.”

The contrast between newly recorded interviews and the input of dated film and advertising footage is tremendous; it holds a lot more meaning than what initially meets the eye. An estimated 14.3 million people in Britain are in poverty; these rates fell following 2010 after the recovery from the financial crisis, but statistics show that those rates are rising once again. In 1979, around only 14% of the British population lived in poverty, showing just how much the older images mean in the context of this documentary. We are slowly slipping back in time, to the beginning of the 1900s, when poverty became so drastic that the Welfare State was introduced to aid lives. A very current and growing problem isn’t always black and white, but the images shown of the history that our population is starting to echo definitely are.

British citizens are the centre of the conversation surrounding a basic income so to have a diverse inclusion of members of the public speak about the issue, alongside other professionals closely connected with the situation, brings expansive character to the documentary in its entirety. This makes audience members feel vastly included within the discussion, appealing to them directly but also in an ‘indirect’ sense through these interviewees. This choice gives viewers a chance to form their own views on the topic throughout the film, helped created by tactile counter arguments being voiced by all participants, as well as giving them a truthful insight into some of the public’s already formed views on the matter.

With a wide range of perspectives, personal and factual opinions and mountains of credible knowledge, the Cost of Living is an incredibly insightful and brilliantly made documentary. Many individuals from across the globe can learn a lot about the current socio-economic status of Britain from this, as well as what may be held in the future for the country. This documentary is a must watch for those who want to understand more of the situation; it provides a great sense of drive to work towards a better tomorrow and thereafter.



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