Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

We Review “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things”

If you’re looking for an unbiased review of “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things,” go to Rotten Tomatoes. This author was featured in the movie along with his wife and employer. The protagonists of the film–Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, aka The Minimalists–are people I choose to call friends; same goes for director Matt D’Avella. On the topic of Minimalism, you might say I fall somewhere between evangelist and zealot. So what do I think about the movie? It eff’ing rocks.

The movie follows Joshua and Ryan as they crossed the country a couple years ago promoting their book “All That Remains.” Interwoven are interviews with the two men about how they went from stressed out, consumer-crazed corporate strivers to blissed out paragons of pared down living and dispensers of hugs.

But a good deal of the film cuts away to talk about applied minimalism and the global impact of consumer culture. There are interviews with the leading figures in the movement and various experts: Zen Habit’s Leo Babauta, Becoming Minimalist’s Joshua Becker, Rowdy Kitten’s Tammy Strobel, neuroscientist/author Sam Harris, Colin Beavan, aka “No Impact Man,” our own Graham Hill and many, many more. Each lends their experience of living a life as a minimalist, but also delve into topics related to “compulsory consumption” and the environmental, social and psychological wake that follows this behavior. Topics include architecture, tiny house living, fashion, meditation and neuroscience. If you weren’t inclined toward a more minimal existence going into the movie, you probably will be at the end.

In 2006, Al Gore released “An Inconvenient Truth”–a film that compelling and concisely outlined the extent and the threat of global warming. In my opinion, nothing trumps this as our number one threat to life as we know it. But the thing that AIT didn’t cover–and this is not a criticism–is the emotional impact our consumer behavior and environmental destruction. We are ravaging our planet, but for what? The Minimalism doc does wonderful job of looking at the human impact of our rapacious treatment of the planet and how it just doesn’t work on virtually any front. And perhaps more importantly, it shows an attractive alternative–a life of less stuff and space, a life filled with more meaning, happiness and hugs. Go see the movie.

The guys are presently doing a cross country tour to promote the film through June (they are offering 10 tickets at door at each showing). But after May 24, the documentary will be showing at over 400 locations across the country. Go here to find a screening near you. The movie will also be available online August 2.  

  • Saw it Sunday. Loved it and loved your part in it! Congrats! 🙂

    • David Friedlander


  • Maggie

    Hope it makes it to Hong Kong!

  • Not really the correct tag line for this article as neither it nor Rotten Tomatoes have a review. OK they are friends of yours and it sounds a good film and you are helping to advertise it but keep the titles matching the content please – this ‘review’ only covers the contents list all of which have been published / discussed before. Lets have your feelings, how the stars come over and even technical likes / dislikes (heck even the odd spoiler with alert) not just a detailed advert please.

    As for me and the show – waiting for it on Vimeo as I’m in the UK.

  • Andy kay

    It I think it is very contradictory in that this is a movie about buying and having less material things and then they ask you to pre-order the thing. Why do we have to BUY it?

    • castlefox

      I think they are doing that b/c its a documentary and theaters dont want to take the financial risk of having showings if people are not going to go to it.

    • annelykke

      Because it costs money to make. If you derive value you need to pony up and stop thinking like a freeloader.

  • Trent Willey

    $20.00??? I have no problems being compensated for art/work but $20 seems to be on the polar opposite of being minimal. It costs me $12.50 to see a film that was produced with a $100+ million dollar budget. You may want to take a sentence or two and explain how the film justifies $20.00 before tight wads like me start complaining. I sincerely love capitalism, its those at the head of a movement that seek to line their own pockets by attempting to hood wink followers that I find offensive. If you’re in the business of being minimal don’t expect to retire with much of a goose egg.

    • At no point have the guys said they do not want to earn a profit or a good living – I think owning less ‘stuff’ and earning a living gets mixed up with living cheap (possibly #vanlife style) but like you I do think this cost is steep so I was glad when the announced you get an extra 6 hours of film compared to the cinema showing…

    • castlefox

      Where do you see $20.00 ??? I see a ticket sale in my area (chicago) going for $11 put a 1 dollar service fee.

  • bored

    absolutely awful—exactly why people don’t understand white privilege. Poorly made and so narcissistic and self-indulgent. These dudes made my skin crawl.

    • Awareness

      You need to obtain thicker skin if it’s crawling from these guys. Eat a power bar Nancy. These guys grew up in the lower middle class in Ohio.

      • Michele Toscan

        Yeah funny remark from somebody who calls him/herself “bored”.

  • Dan

    I think you got their book title wrong. Should be “Everything that Remains”.

  • John Fahey

    Currently you can see this on Netflix

  • Disappointed

    This movie was ironically not even minimalistic,and I’m disappointed because I heard so many good reviews about this film.. Most people consider minimalism to mean leaving less of an impact on the world and they do- but theirs is not enough. He talks about minimalism while wearing Ray Bans at some point and they blame the fall of the economy and the loss of over 6 million jobs and livelihoods on the consumers (Like the banks didn’t do anything or sign anything or give them the idea for these loans). Missing the point is a repeated theme. They notice all these problems in society and absolutely fail to act on them except by patting themselves on the back. If they were really minimalist they would be able to make textiles or carve something useful versus just buying less and believing that they are making an impact. All the products they buy are still made in China and still most likely the result of child labour. The Ray Bans he’s wearing are the result of a monopolistic ownership on glasses distribution (and why Ray Bans anyway if they are so against advertising?). The Toyota they drive and the gas they use are the result of overseas labour and cause a major environmental impact. For minimalists they rely heavily on the outside world to provide for them. So while it’s a nice start to encourage minimalism, they should live with less impact and with more independence. Heck, even the movie was filmed in HD, which if were following Bauhaus minimalism “less is more” ,considering its expensive budget to make shouldn’t they have attempted to describe their techniques on being a minimalist in a simpler way? If they want change in consumerism they should push for better healthcare, working conditions and education instead of blaming the lower class for not knowing any better.

  • Renee

    This documentary had me want to shout from the rooftops that the answer is GOD! We are all born with a void. God brings joy and contentment. Not having a lot of things, success, or even minimalism can be as satisfying. Thankful for the truth and joy that he brings me.

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  • Cha Rob

    3 things in life #1,,Good health , #2 Own that roof you sleep under,,#3 be self employed,….

  • Tracy Yurislovko

    So minimalism is a thing now? Poor people have been living minimally for eons; they have found meaning and happiness in the things that matter because they can’t afford the clutter. Look, I commend the “movement” because there’s something sick about our society. I think they’re moving in the right direction. But there’s also something obnoxious about a bunch of privileged people going, “Look at what I CAN AFFORD to give up!” when people (like myself) have been living minimally because we had no choice.