Movie Review: Meat

By Matthew Murray

Few people regularly consider the moral quandaries of meat farming. Many of us prefer to shut out the grisly details of where our dinner originated; while some have simply stopped eating meat altogether.

David White's film doesn't really care where you fit on that spectrum. If it could achieve nothing else, Meat would ask only that you give the subject some well-informed thought.

Inviting us into the lives of three meat farmers and a hunter, this Kiwi-made doco offers a brief but direct insight into how these people think about their jobs and the inevitable controversy they have encountered.

Josh, a hunter, features in the local doco Meat
Josh, a hunter, features in the local doco Meat

White's film-making is often rigidly neutral, which is both a strength and a weakness, depending on what you value in a documentary.

The film never talks down to you for enjoying an occasional plate of bacon; nor does it ridicule those who've opted for vegetarianism. You'll be offered clearly reasoned viewpoints ranging from the idea that caged animals suffer in no way, to outright rejection of the global meat-farming machine.

What the film lacks is a distinct voice. It opens on a bright red, bold title card, as if to say that what follows will be a hard-hitting and confronting exposé. But, with such a neutral tone, the film only really amounts to a document on the different methods we use to farm meat and how farmers justify these practices; occasionally cutting to the hunter in order to offer some insight on the argument against meat farming.

Jill, a sheep and beef farmer, features in the local doco Meat
Jill, a sheep and beef farmer, features in the local doco Meat

White's most effective and distinct tool is regularly juxtaposing the jovial narration of the farmers against some of the film's more unsettling imagery. By doing this, he constantly forces viewers to draw their own moral conclusions about how the animals are treated; and it is in these moments that you will be most stirred up.

Seeing Meat probably won't cause you to drastically rethink your position on meat-eating. It does, however, offer a short and well-balanced discussion on a controversial subject that is relevant to everyone; making it worthy viewing for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike.

Director: David White
Running Time: 75 min
Rating: M (Animal slaughter)
Verdict: Rigidly matter-of-fact, but stirring enough to be worth your time

- NZ Herald

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