A Night in with Netflix: “Living on One Dollar”
Living on One Dollar is a documentary about four American friends who travel from their homes in the U.S. to Guatemala to make an attempt at experiencing life in extreme poverty. They allow themselves only $1 per day to survive in a rural village in a foreign country. There is no clean water, little food and poor shelter in the village and the documentary follows them as they learn and create bonds with the Guatemalan people.
Two of the boys are featured in the film and the other two, while primarily the filmmakers, have an occasional appearance. Their trip was 56 days long, and they allotted themselves $1 per day each, but set up a system to ensure their “wage” would be unpredictable. Because their neighbors were paid on an inconsistent basis, they wanted to be sure their experience was as realistic as possible.
It was fascinating to watch young men struggle through life on very little money, when what they were used to was a fairly luxurious life in America. Going from middle class in a first world country to poverty in a third world country is a huge leap and it took tenacity, planning and humility for them to survive.
It was extremely eye opening to watch them have to start a “business” of growing and selling crops, go into market and be smart with their money, and learn how to survive in a trying environment. Along they way, the film shares some shocking statistics about poverty and features interviews with many of the Mayan people the boys became friends and neighbors with. The parallel stories of those who had only known this life with the American boys who were trying to assimilate into it was original and interesting because they felt relatable in sharing their struggles.
At times, the film was slow. As a documentary the point of it is to document every-day life, and that drug on for a bit. Sometimes their days were long and simply full of labor, which I think was important to watch in order to get the full picture, but it got boring during parts of the film. Overall, these scenes added to the importance of the movie by detailing the pain of not eating and the emotions of scraping by day-by-day.