To fight a nearby nuclear plant, 11-year-old Sam must win his own ethical battle
Childhood offers no shortage of potential anxieties, from fitting in with peers, to succeeding in school, to dealing with parents. Eleven-year-old Sam’s hopes, fears and interests, however, are rather different from those of most of his classmates: Hinkley Point C, Britain’s largest nuclear power plant is going up next door to his home in Somerset, England, and Sam is deeply concerned about its effect on the environment – especially the marine life off the coast. Between discussing the the potential for a surprise war or the values of veganism with a friend, Sam is consumed by his dream of becoming a marine biologist. Perhaps he can protect the fish threatened by the plant? The problem is, the private schools that Sam thinks might best set him up for the profession are enormously expensive, and his parents don’t have the money. A conundrum arises for the exceedingly ethical Sam: Should he accept a contribution from the company that owns the plant to help his family offset the high cost of school? Constructed with nuance and care by the Copenhagen-based director Ömer Sami, Sam and the Plant Next Door (2019) is an affectionate exploration of a precocious childhood and what it’s like to have strong convictions at odds with the world around you.