Billy Soistmann

Review: The Cove

In 2009, Documentary, Lionsgate Films, Louie Psihoyos, Reviews on February 8, 2010 at 7:03 PM

The Cove, directed by Louie Psihoyos, follows him in his quest to expose the cetacean massacre in Taiji, Japan.

The movie begins as Ric O’Barry, a dolphin trainer turned activist, guides the director into the small coastal town of Taiji. The sequence introduces the town so naturally, as we are taken on the ride with the director. Psihoyos becomes the audience’s stand-in and we see the town for the first time through his eyes. Then, we are given some background into the “star” of the film, Mr. O’Barry. The movie progresses as a typical, although extremely well-crafted doc. We see some aspects of the dolphin hunt, including many of its disastrous consequences as well as the primary causes and corruption that keeps it running.

However, the main plot of the film centers on O’Barry and Psihoyos as they assemble a covert team to infiltrate “The Cove.” Everything is building up to the final act, in which the team attempts to get footage from inside the guarded killing cove. Their mission is as thrilling as any narrative spy film, and this is where the movie really succeeds.

This film is a leap forward for the documentary format. It cuts between a more traditional documentary (interviews, clips, etc.) and the team’s covert operation. And this works perfectly. By contrasting the two styles of filmmaking, both aspects of the movie have much more effect.

At the end of the film, Psihoyos makes a very wise choice. He lets the images speak for themselves. Rather than pontificate about the evils of the hunt, the audience is given the images and we must make of them what we want.

The Cove is a superb film that transcends its documentary label and impacts the audience like very few films of any kind can.

  1. […] 2/7 – The Cove: What an amazing documentary. This film combines traditional fact-based doc reporting and a thrilling narrative to great effect. See my full review. […]

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