Paul Devlin’s recent documentary “Power Trip”
is not, as one might prematurely fear from the title, a mundane
melodrama of the horrors of high school hierarchy and one popular
girl’s abuse of her pom-poms and megaphone. Refreshingly,
Devlin’s engaging and often sobering look at the energy
crisis in Tbilisi, Georgia, offers something that has become
exceedingly rare; an entertaining film that still manages searing
contemporary relevance.

Film Reviews
The alpha-car marks its territory. (Courtesy of Films Transit International)

When Georgia declared independence from the Soviet Union in
1991, the privatization of electricity distribution made Georgians
reluctantly responsible for their energy bills for the first time.
AES, the private global power company founded in 1981 by two former
members of the U.S. Department of Energy, had established its
reputation on tackling sticky foreign energy situations and saw
Georgia’s current crisis as no exception.

“Power Trip” documents AES’s struggles to stay
afloat as 90 percent of its customers were finding (terrifyingly
unsafe) ways to use their energy for free. Devlin’s
persistence behind the camera produces unbelievable footage of the
Georgians’ makeshift free-energy solutions. In their
desperate need for power, citizens manually connected their homes
to any available live wires such as tram lines and street
lights.

Devlin manages to maintain a fairly balanced representation of
both sides of the situation, an impressive feat considering the
majority of his interviews are with non-Georgian higher-ups within
AES. Both Devlin and the AES employees are obviously passionate
about their work and their commitment to understanding and
improving Georgia is what makes the film worthwhile.

Still, despite the optimistic energy of those involved, the
situation remains grim. There are no easy solutions for the people
of Georgia, and thankfully Devlin does not offer any. What he does
provide is a well-informed — at times difficult to watch
— and ultimately important documentary that asks difficult
questions and has the guts to admit that no one may know the
answers.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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