The film will explore society’s obsessions with the pursuit of happiness and will be presented by Mark Manson alongside Disappointment Panda, a character from the book whose superpower is to tell people the harsh truth.

Editing: Whetham Allpress
Karl Solve Steven

Cast: Mark Manson

Directors: Nathan Price
Writers: Tom Blackwell, Matthew Metcalfe
Cinematography: Marina Ines, Manchego

In 2016 Mark Manson released the New York Times bestseller, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. The book, an anti-self-help book of sorts, delves into what Manson views as a culture of mindless positivity fueled by social media, and Manson talks about how he concluded that what he thought he was doing, living a lifestyle of “not giving an f” was actually caring too much. The documentary, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a #@%! isn’t really a documentary as much as it is a lecture. It’s an expanded Ted talk from Manson covering the same basic beats as his best seller, but it doesn’t work. 

A documentary based on Manson’s book could have made for a rather intriguing watch, but this film misses the basics of what could have made it enjoyable. Whereas his book was always going to be a singular voice, and that’s fine, this film would have greatly benefited from hearing from others who either agree with the way Manson talks about life or those who disagree. But the film is all on Manson, either talking directly to the camera or through voice-over. Running through the same beats as the book with a combination of what seems like a cheap b-roll filmed for the movie or stuff found on royalty-free websites. 

The most interesting moments within the film are interludes where Manson explains the history of Hiroshima Onoda. This Japanese soldier spent 29 years in hiding, thinking any signs he saw or letters dropped from the sky saying the war was over were fake. Onoda is an interesting person, and his story is much more engaging than most of this film. 

I agree with what Manson talks about at a basic level, but this isn’t the way to digest his ideas. Read his books, and listen to the audiobooks because The Subtle Art of Not Giving a #@%! is a boring film that misses any opportunity to expand upon or bring up interesting discussion points when translating a bestseller to a different medium.