One of the most talked about documentaries on the film circuit this year opened in theatres this week, and having found ourselves with a rare afternoon off, my partner Joe and I of course went to go see The Cove, a documentary by Louie Psihoyos about a small, carefully-guarded lagoon in Japan, where over 20,000 dolphins are killed every year. The press about this film has been overwhelmingly positive and I have to add my voice to the accolades, and my most sincere urging to go see it. It’s not only an activist film, but a taut, harrowing thriller. It teems with passion, and rarely did I feel that it was over the top showboating or soapboxing.
Joe, a staunch vegetarian, ranted afterwards about people who are horrified that anyone could eat a dolphin, but who are happy to eat cows or pigs, to which I had no reply, since I might be counted as one of those people. And sure, I could see his point, being a lapsed vegetarian myself (but oh, the bacon...!). On the way home from the theatre, I had a craving for a Vietnamese salad roll with shrimp and sliced cold pig (why not call it what it is?), which I got at a great little take-out place on Jean-Talon Blvd. It was delicious! But seriously, I do recognize that I should at least be extremely picky about the animals that I do eat on occasion, which I mostly am. What constitutes “extremely picky” would constitute a whole other discussion, rather than a simple digression. But I digress! I hope this doesn’t distract from the issue at hand.
Most people I’ve spoken to don’t want to see this film. I, too, had hesitations! I could imagine the horror of a dolphin slaughter perfectly well, and didn’t want to have to see it. However, I can say that The Cove is not needlessly violent, and there is only the one main slaughter scene, the crux of the movie. The Cove is not just a doc but a thriller about the efforts of Ric O’Barry (Flipper’s trainer-turned-activist) and the filmmakers to expose the secret slaughter, and the espionage aspects of the narrative certainly are harrowing, but great storytelling as well. By the time the slaughter is finally captured, we are well-prepared for it, and on the side of O’Barry and the film team. The Cove is really well-made documentary, and needs to be seen.