Life and Debt


Generally favorable reviews - based on 20 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 20
  2. Negative: 2 out of 20

Where To Watch

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Critic Reviews

  1. Offers the clearest analysis of globalization and its negative effects that I've ever seen on a movie or television screen.
  2. 90
    Devastating, artful, and intelligent documentary.
  3. 90
    Black's cool-headed but blistering indictment of globalization and the racist international economic policies that have shoved that country into crushing poverty.
  4. It's smart, instructive political cinema that tackles complex issues of the globalization with practical examples and vivid images and presents its effects in immediate human terms.
  5. After viewing documentarian Stephanie Black's dour exegesis of the wrecked Jamaican economy -- only the most insensitive vacationer will want to set foot anywhere near the resorts and beaches of Montego Bay.
  6. Hard to watch, harder still to ignore.
  7. 78
    To paraphrase Nathan McCall, this film makes you wanna holler.
  8. This is a sophisticated and unsettling documentary marred only by a voice-over taken from the writings of Jamaica Kincaid.
  9. Chicago Tribune
    Reviewed by: Loren King
    A searing documentary with an agenda.
  10. What's frustrating for the viewer who wants to support the Jamaican economy is that "Life and Debt" does not suggest how Jamaica-lovers can help the island's citizens.
  11. 75
    Employs both eloquent and down-to-earth methods to explain the complex reasons why so many of the world's developing countries remain caught in an economic quagmire that prevents them from becoming self-sufficient.
  12. Blends compassion for individuals with explanations of the socioenonomic factors that influence them.
  13. 75
    If you're curious about why the demonstrators are so angry, this is why they're so angry.
  14. 70
    The only criticism that can possibly be leveled at Black's film is its narrow focus, but it's not hard to extrapolate.
  15. Powerfully illustrates what globalization has been doing to underdeveloped countries around the world.
  16. The damning commentary and revelations about the perils of globalization, not just for Jamaica but developing countries the world over, do come across loud and clear.
  17. 63
    Often makes for a compelling comedy-drama about family ties. It's only when the cancer takes center stage that the movie feels like a wash.
  18. It's an intelligent movie about economics. As such, it would probably make more sense to have it reviewed by economists than film critics.
  19. New York Post
    Reviewed by: Jonathan Foreman
    Self-righteous, economically illiterate and sometimes flatly dishonest.
  20. 10
    Tough to respect a documentary that doesn't play fair. Anyone interested in the subject would be better off spending Life And Debt's torturous 80-minute running time with a good article on the topic.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 8 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Jun 15, 2014
    Jamaica Kincaid viewed tourism in Antigua with a critical eye. Tourists are ugly human being not in their ordinary life but when they are onJamaica Kincaid viewed tourism in Antigua with a critical eye. Tourists are ugly human being not in their ordinary life but when they are on their journey. They tacitly think they are more superior than locals and use Antiguan workers to their own benefits. Actually in Antigua, the schools are dilapidated and hospitals are filled with quack doctors. Who earn money through dishonest means like drug smuggler or mistress become rich in this area. But tourists came here to and enjoy their holiday so they unconsciously see only pretty things and completely ignored the real problems of Antigua. She also said people in Antigua want to get out of their daily life and feel free like tourists but they are too poor to leave on a trip, so local people envy tourists who visit their country and find freshness from their own banality.
    However, Dr. Reg Murphy rebut the argument of Jamaica Kincaid. He hated her book. He said Jamaica Kincaid whines about everything in Jamaica and all of what she said are exaggerated. And he pointed out Jamaica Kincaid is rich but didn’t spend any money for her country. According to Murphy, she complains about loss of cultural heritage in Antigua but she doesn’t do anything to fix them. He argued that people love tourism business and mention that Antiguans not taking the opportunities to get involved in the tourism business.
    Firstly, I don’t agree with Dr Reg Murphy’s idea. He said all of serious situations in Antigua what Jamaica Kincaid wrote were exaggerated and stretched but almost all of them are fact.
    He also said that Antiguans don’t utilize tourism business, don’t get opportunities but so far as I know, Antigua’s primary source of money is from the tourism business. Most of locals work within these business but their
    Job quality is low like cleaning man or woman in hotel. By that kind of job, locals cannot make enough money and like other developing countries this small carribean island’s tourism money is all go to foreign company, and so ‘leakage’ occurred.
    It’s true that Jamaica Kincaid is complained and only seem to blame tourists about everything in Antigua, and I don’t think most problems occurred because of tourists but I agree with her main idea. Tourists only came
    Antigua to enjoy amazing sun, eating delicious food and meeting new people so they can get freshness but local people cannot do that because they are too poor so they envy tourists and they cannot stand you because you look always happy and seem to be better than them. So locals feel antagonism toward them and social carrying capacity has been exceeded because local people feel bad about tourism development and tourists in Antigua.
    I think if this hatred continuously, then local people doesn’t stop at covertly resistence but they protest more vigourly like use violence so tourists no longer want to visit Antigua. And as I already said Antigua’s primary of source of money is from the hotel and tourist business so it might have bad effects on Antigua’s economic development.
    So I think to ease up the hostility of locals toward tourists, first government should carried out carrying capacity assessment, so that there is no more destruction, especially of socio-cultural environment. And tourism providers and tourists should make an effort to make a responsible tourism. So as we already studied tourism providers should involve local people in decision that affect their lives and life chances also tourists should have greater understanding of local cultural, social, and environmental issues in Antigua like the problems which Jamaica Kincaid pointed out. There should be no more ignorance of situation. And the most important thing is there sould be respect between tourists and hosts. Now in Antigua hosts laughed at tourists behind them whatever tourists do.
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