Film Review: Lemonade

It’s not a pink slip, it’s a blank page

By Andrew Williams

Imagine you’re a smart, young, and successful creative director working for one of the biggest advertising firms in downtown New York. Unfortunately, the 2008 recession hits and businesses around the world cut their advertising budgets in a desperate attempt to stay afloat. Suddenly you find yourself downsized as advertising agencies worldwide go under. Most people stuck in this situation would view it as unequivocally negative; pretty much the worst thing that can happen to a young professional. Others, perhaps only a select few, see it as an opportunity to radically change their lives. Lemonade tells the stories of sixteen professionally creative people that made sweeping and positive changes in their lives after being laid off.

With a runtime of only thirty six minutes, this documentary offers a very quick and concise view into the lives of a few people that make the best of a difficult situation. The last few years have seen thousands of people make the difficult transition from employed to unemployed, sometimes gracefully, and other times not so much. Lemonade offers only the success stories; the people that took a workable idea and decided to run with it.

The stories are as diverse as they are inspiring. While one man starts his own coffee roasting service and mobile café, another decides to change his gender. One woman starts a yoga studio while a number of others begin their own innovative blogs and websites. The documentary’s message is very quickly conveyed: unemployment can be as much of a gift as it is a struggle. It’s a very glass half full type of movie and will certainly brighten your day. With such a short run time, you could easily fit it into your lunch break. Alternatively if you’re unemployed, it will certainly make you feel better about your current plight and could even galvanize you into action. Keep in mind that the sixteen people interviewed are not your average office worker; they are experienced and successful creative professionals hailing from the advertising industry. Many of their post employment careers spoke directly to their strengths and experience and so it wasn’t as if they were starting totally from scratch. Many also had tremendous support from their loved ones, both financially and emotionally.

Upon being laid off, Lawson Clarke decided to make his way as a provocative freelance writer. His site, is filled with sharp and often hilarious campaigns he has undertaken since his dismissal.

Visually, the film offers quick cuts and high quality camera work. Given the sheer diversity of stories and activities undertaken, the film’s editing is excellent. The soundtrack seems like it could have been composed by ambient music masters Boards of Canada. It twinkles and swells optimistically throughout the film, highlighting certain feel good messages.

Lemonade’s brevity does leave you wanting more, especially because not all of the people were equally successful in their joblessness. If you are desperate for more heartwarming tales from the world of unemployment, Lemonade “The Book” is currently in production. It will offer a collection of essays from people who have made their own positive changes from being laid off, likely providing greater detail than the movie.

Lemon Links:

  • has all of the details
  • Some of those people featured in the movie went on to create websites devoted to helping others in similar situations.
  • Tom Van Daele created a website which gives those who have been laid off a place to state one positive change that resulted from losing their jobs.
  • Erik Proulx (also the director of the movie) founded a blog, job board, and self described “vent space” for the advertising community.
  • Steve Hall created one of the most successful blogs that covers the advertising industry. It also features a multi-national job board.


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