All You Need Is Love (and Money, and Basic Human Rights)


The documentary All You Need Is Love does a nice job of showing how, when it comes to children’s lives, the ordinary is inescapable, even in extraordinary circumstances.

The Mae Sot district in Thailand is home to thousands of stateless Burmese whose situation stymies them in finding work, housing, and education. The film, narrated sonorously but undramatically by Sigourney Weaver, focuses on the Good Morning School (which would have been a superior title), founded by a Burmese woman who fervently values her own education.

Despite living in huts without running water or electricity, and facing the danger of kidnapping by sex-trafficking thugs, these toddlers, tweens, and adolescents nevertheless play together pretty much as their privileged American counterparts do. Though we follow a few students and their parents, the film is mostly a piecework of situations and commentary; there’s no real story, aside from the school receiving help from Muse, a network of California private schools, to fund a new building so the teachers and students can move out of their ramshackle, make-do structure.

All You Need Is Love could have benefited from picking up its pace — it may have worked better as a shorter broadcast-news feature — but it’s a valuable peek into a situation that most people are unaware of and a guide to a worthy cause. In fact, it shows that in addition to love, you may need money and a few basic human rights.