That Sugar Film

Year: 2014
Production Co: Madman
Director: Damon Gameau
Writer: Damon Gameau
Cast: Damon Gameau, Stephen Fry, Hugh Jackman, Isabel Lucas, Jessica Marais, Brenton Thwaites

Australian actor Damon Gameau isn't really someone I would have thought of as a documentarian, but he's made a bunch of them in the last handful of years and this is the first one I've seen (although his others are on my list).

Comparisons with Supersize Me, the one where Morgan Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald's for a month, are inevitable, but you'll still get a lot out of it.

I've actually been aware of much of what he's talking about when it comes to the sugar content in common foods for a few years, so not much of the health information in it was a surprise to me, but I can fully imagine someone who's lived with a westernised diets full of soft drinks and supposedly 'healthy' snacks all their lives being quite shocked.

Gameau sets himself the task of eating the same number of calories he did on a much healthier diet, but getting them through high sugar and low fat foods, all while investigating some of the fairly secret history of the processed food industry (the film puts the boot in fairly strongly in the last act) and the effects it's wrought on so many people – a particularly interesting case is the young man in one of the poorest areas of rural Kentucky who's drank so much Mountain Dew his tooth have all rotted out.

It contains a good deal of the chemistry behind the different kinds of sugars as well as the way food is made and marketed to us, and Gameau has recruited an impressive collection of famous faces to present little vignettes about the history, methods and science of food and the food industries like Hugh Jackman and Stephen Fry.

All the while, he consults with a small team of scientists, doctors, dieticians and heart specialists to track progress as he gets more listless, sicker, fatter and moodier. It's good fun where it needs to be, as informative as it should be, and if you had no idea of what sugar's doing to your body, it looks on the surface to be good science.

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