Sundance London 2013: The Moo Man
Thursday 25th April, 9pm – O2 Cineworld, Screen 7
Sunday 28th April, 5.30pm – O2 Cineworld, Screen 6
The Moo Man elicits mixed expectations. On the one hand it’s about cows, and cows are adorable; nonetheless, the question remains – how will a documentary about a dairy farm sustain interest for a whole 98 minutes? Any scepticism soon dissipates: it is genuinely engrossing to observe the life of Stephen Hook while he goes about his daily tasks and takes us through the motions involved in owning a family farm.
The film is a simply shot documentary, with no artsy embellishments aside from the odd lingering shot over fields or a cow’s emotive expression. It’s easy to take an instant liking to the main focus – Hook. He has a down-to-earth and friendly manner, working hard for a living on his dairy farm, selling raw milk and doing his best to give his cows a comfortable, happy life.
The complexities and struggles of the British dairy farming trade unfold, making the way Stephen has chosen to run his farm all the more admirable. Most heart-warming is the connection he has built with his herd – in particular, Ida the cow takes a starring role. When she is brought along to Eastbourne for the day to promote the farm’s brand of milk, you can’t help but chuckle at her stubbornness as she refuses to get back into her trailer, perfectly content in the sea air.
The spotlight on the cows’ personalities reflects the way in which Stephen sees them, and how he has such a close bond with them. This is beautifully summarised in what he says about when a death occurs in the herd: it’s “the end of one of the characters”. It seems to be the animals’ animated presence amid his daily tasks that keeps Hook so devoted to his trade, even if it is difficult and financially unrewarding.
The Moo Man encourages more sensitive consideration of the farming trade. While leaving behind the message that we should try to better support out local farms, the documentary also serves as a reminder of the importance of kindness between humans, animals and nature. If we could all be as passionate and caring as Stephen Hook, it would surely be a better world.
The Moo Man is released in selected cinemas in July 2013.
Read more reviews from the Sundance Film and Music Festival 2013 here.
For further information about the Sundance Film and Music Festival 2013 visit here.
Watch a clip from The Moo Man here: