The Life And Times Of ‘Plastic Bag’

Drop whatever you're doing and take 18 minutes to watch Plastic Bag, an amazing film by Ramin Bahrani that chronicles the life cycle of a random plastic bag.

German director Hans Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man, etc.) is the voice of the ubiquitous disposable, which comes to existence in the supermarket before enjoying a robust relationship with its "maker," the woman who brought it home. Once disposed of, the bag floats aimlessly through a world devoid of humans as it seeks its original owner. A chainlink fence full of decaying brethren informs the bag of the Pacific Trash Vortex (AKA the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a small-continent-sized mass of trash floating in the middle of the ocean, where the bag is promised refuge.

The film's dirty little secret is that the bag's original owner is a very good liberal, the sort of person who uses the bag for several jobs, from icing her sore ankle to picking up her dog's shit, before finally disposing of it. Being plastic, though, dooms the bag to a certain kind of inanimate zombiehood, which is why it evades the landfill and travels the planet in search of warmth and humanity – or at least a huge mass of similarly fated material.

Tragically beautiful, Plastic Bag is probably the most affecting movie I've seen all year. The score, by Sigur Rós's Kjartan Sveinsson, is pretty wonderful, too.