Review: Josh Appignanesi’s ‘My Extinction’

My Extinction Review - 2023 Josh Appignanesi Documentary Movie Film

Vague Visages’ My Extinction review contains minor spoilers. Josh Appignanesi’s 2023 documentary stars himself, Devorah Baum and A.L. Kennedy. Check out the VV home page for more film reviews, along with cast/character summaries, streaming guides and complete soundtrack song listings.


Is Josh Appignanesi transforming into the next great documentarian? The Jewish filmmaker continues to evolve with My Extinction, the third installment of an existential trilogy. After releasing documentaries about childbirth (The New Man, 2016) and marriage (Husband, 2022), Appignanesi now shifts his cerebral focus/social concerns to climate change. My Extinction harmonizes with the filmmaker’s personality and creative journey.

Growth, introspection, action: all of these themes transcend above ego in My Extinction. Appignanesi once again incorporates self-deprecating humor, and does so at all the right moments. My Extinction’s first act thrives with subtle comedy as the filmmaker dreams of raging against the machine but can’t quite locate a road map for the revolution. Profile shots and strong mise-en-scène boost several early scenes, with Appignanesi conversing with his wife, author/filmmaker Devorah Baum, along with various writers and members of a London activist group called Extinction Rebellion. For a film about “confusion,” My Extinction consistently stays on point with its messaging and execution; a sign of the director’s self-awareness, emotional intelligence and overall understanding of the craft itself.

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My Extinction Review - 2023 Josh Appignanesi Documentary Movie Film

My Extinction chronicles the interior worlds of activists and writers who refuse to accept big money propaganda. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw implies that Appignanesi took a “quantum leap” with his narrative approach; however, the subtext of My Extinction seems to be the filmmaker’s natural evolution from self-centered creative to husband to father to concerned citizen with a camera. Even if the director doesn’t emerge as one of the movement’s loudest leaders, he created a meaningful audio/visual document about a crucial historical moment in history via candid conversations with fellow creatives. And it’s the collective philosophizing that stands out most in My Extinction, evidenced in part by a key sequence in which novelist Zadie Smith speaks at a Tufton Street rally about human naivete, or when Appignanesi chats with his wife about the sociopolitical complacency of wise people. Whereas many philosophical discussions in The New Man and Husband transpire in a living room, My Extinction takes them to the streets… and that’s how revolutions begin, whether it’s a personal rebellion or a fully-organized uprising.

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My Extinction Review - 2023 Josh Appignanesi Documentary Movie Film

My Extinction is a film about morals and consequences. Interestingly, Appignanesi bounces back and forth between existentialism and pure action, with the aforementioned Baum often providing clarity during moments of confusion (and vice versa) — a callback to the couple’s past films. My Extinction reads like the opening chapters of an unfinished novel from an intellectual-turned-radical: heavy sociopolitical context, rich character development and instructions for the path forward. Essential viewing.

My Extinction released theatrically on June 30, 2023 via Dartmouth Films.

Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor.

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