Darwin ★★★★

An engrossing, sensitive portrait of a small community located in the blisteringly hot outskirts of Death Valley. With a population of 35, Darwin is a desolated, isolated town where people come to escape their pasts of crime, violence, addiction, oppression, and to quietly live out the rest of their days; away from the noise and insanity of the city and society at large.

The documentary is at times both terribly heartbreaking and unexpectedly heartwarming. We follow the lives of Darwin’s many unique, fascinating, multifaceted citizens: an aging coal miner with a hidden gift for sculpture, a pagan couple who serve as tourist guides and historians of the town, a soft-spoken author that teaches music in the summer, a postmaster general with an estranged son in prison, and a convicted anarchist who keeps his guns buried out in the desert.

Through the testimonials of these people, we learn everything about the birth of this town, it’s wild, Wild West history, the fragile way by which it gets its water, and how the community unites (or doesn’t) to find meaning and purpose in a land that society has forgotten. The resilience of the human spirit is on full display here. It’s a truly poignant viewing experience, and it may leave you wondering what it is in this world that you truly value and cherish.