The Cove (12A)
Time Out rating:
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Time Out says
Tue Oct 20 2009Taiji, Japan. A tourist town with a face it doesn’t want anyone to see. Off-limits to prying eyes is an inlet where local fishermen carry out the clandestine slaughter of thousands of dolphins each year. Why kill these sea-going mammals, when the mercury-packed meat has to be re-labelled as ‘whale’ to sell cheaply in supermarkets? Well, the demand from dolphin shows worldwide – which will pay £100, 000 per prime specimen – makes the cull economically viable. None of this is illegal, since the International Whaling Commission has no jurisdiction over dolphins and porpoises, but it is now being brought to global attention thanks to tireless activist Richard O’Barry, at whose behest director Louie Psihoyos and his crew used risky subterfuge to capture shocking footage of these previously unseen iniquities.
There’s an effective thriller element to this vividly assembled doc, as we see surveillance equipment hidden inside fake rocks and champion divers planting underwater cameras under cover of darkness. Elsewhere, though the Taiji fishing community won’t win any kudos for its diplomacy, there’s also encouraging resistance from some local councillors battling for change. However, what lifts the film beyond effective consciousness-raising into the realms of human tragedy, is the startling irony that project instigator O’Barry is none other than the trainer of ’60s TV icon ‘Flipper’, whose popularity spawned the whole dolphin show explosion in the first place. The sadness in his eyes, a window on the churning emotions he must confront on a daily basis, proves the most haunting image in a film that will leave you better informed, tearful and really angry.
Author: Trevor Johnston
Fri Oct 23, 2009