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Review: 15 Reasons To Live


Director Alan Zweig is in a record store one day when he runs into a neighbourhood acquaintance (author Ray Robertson). This acquaintance told him that he had just written a list of 15 reasons to live. Zweig decided then and there that he would set out to find stories to fit each of those reasons on the list.

Director Alan Zweig as himself and 13 people (including famed G20 protestor Adam Nobody) share their personal stories with Zweig in a series of vignettes.

Some reasons on the list are obvious like, “Love” while others like “Critical Mind” and “Solitude” probably wouldn’t make it onto most people’s lists. This, however, is what makes the film appealing despite its many talking-head segments. For some of the items on the list Zweig has sought out people with relevant stories, while for others he provides stories from his own life. The latter was undoubtedly the most interesting because we got to hear more of Zweig’s characterful narration and these personal stories were accompanied by interesting animations.

That is not to say, however that the other stories were not also unique and entertaining. Some of the stories though were really strong whilst others almost seemed to be out of place in the film. For example, the woman that went on a boat ride with a friend of a friend despite her instincts not to and yet was pleasantly surprised when she had a wonderful time (aided by alcohol). Compare that story to a man who left his loving wife and comfortable life to spend ten years walking around the world.

It’s evident that Zweig wanted to make a point of gathering an eclectic mix of stories that would represent a diverse group of people. In this regard he shows us men, women, young and old from a variety of social backgrounds. However, with the exception of one Chinese man they are all Caucasian. It would have been nice to see stories that more accurately reflect the diversity of Toronto and Canada as a whole. Having said that though, a project like this is an ambitious one that few directors would be able to pull-off. Zweig admits at the very beginning of the film that he doesn’t make lists and he doesn’t think about reasons to live so the fact that he ventured into new territory to make this documentary is commendable.

Should You See It?
Watch it for the shots of beloved Toronto neighbourhoods, the feel-good factor and Zweig’s captivating narration.

[star v=3]