Movie review: Food doc shows everything that goes into 'Eating Animals'
Natalie Portman gives a stern narrative voice to this eye-opening documentary about the state of farming in America today
The food documentary "Eating Animals" is about what goes into your Chicken McNuggets — not just in the traditional sense, but also the legislation, the farming, the man hours, the corporate greed and the environmental damage that allows you to pull up to any McDonald's in any town in America and get six delicious McNuggets anytime you want.
"Eating Animals" is solemn, tough viewing that examines the state of farming in America today. It's not about slaughterhouse scare tactics — there are other docs for that — but rather about massive farms and the demand put upon farmers to meet their corporate requirements or risk losing it all.
Natalie Portman narrates the film in a pensive tone that often sounds like she's choking back tears. Director Christopher Dillon Quinn, working from Jonathan Safran Foer's 2009 book, hones in on several farmers fed up with the state of the industry and whistleblowers who have called for change, putting a human face on a problem many are ignorant of when they're reaching in the freezer for a chicken breast to cook up for dinner.
Quinn shows what he can of overpopulated hen houses and the Pepto Bismol-colored "hog lagoons" that are scattered around North Carolina that house the waste from nearby pig farms, until he's inevitably shut down by security types telling him to take his cameras elsewhere. He shows the secrecy that surrounds many of these operations and the shadowy conditions under which their business is conducted.
"Eating Animals" is painted as a David vs. Goliath story where David is nature and the earth's swelling population is Goliath. Hope lies in education, which is the ball this smart, impassioned film is trying to get rolling.
Not rated: Scenes of animal cruelty
Running time: 95 minutes