'Groundswell Rising' needs to dig deeper

'Groundswell Rising' is as passionate as earlier anti-fracking films, but a one-sided approach undermines it

Occupying much of the same anti-fracking turf as the 2010 Oscar-nominated "Gasland" and its 2013 sequel "Gasland Part II," the new documentary "Groundswell Rising" is an undeniably passionate but frustratingly one-sided examination of the controversial method of gas extraction.

For the individuals in this film, the hydraulic fracturing boom has ramifications beyond their idyllic rural vistas being obscured by flame-spewing combustor stacks and well pads ringing their properties, not to mention the roar of heavy trucks going up and down their roads.

With the unsightly equipment seemingly moving ever closer to their homes and their children's schools, there's understandable alarm over contaminated drinking water, rashes, asthma and more serious illnesses.

Taking an articulate stance regarding "the moral issue of our time," the documentary has assembled "fractivists," including actor Mark Ruffalo and singer Natalie Merchant. They pointedly express a kinship with the civil rights, women's rights and gay rights activists who locked arms in solidarity before them.

But Renard Cohen's film screams out for some kind of response, however unsatisfactory, from the big, bad oil and gas industry, even if it ends up taking the terse form of a refusal to comment.

Compared with the other anti-fracking docs that have preceded it, "Groundswell Rising" doesn't dig deeply enough.


"Groundswell Rising"

No MPAA rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 11 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.

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