Dir. Louie Psihoyos, 91mins, USA , 2009
Featuring: Louie Psihoyos, Joe Chisholm, Isabel Lucas, Hayden Panettiere, Mandy Rae-Cruikshank, Ric O'Barry
Review by Matthew Rodgers
For a long time now cinema has been permeated by a willingness to save the planet; Al Gore started it all off, DiCaprio jumped on the bandwagon and since then everything from fish to flamingos have had their chance in the spotlight. Heck, even the lamentable Keanu Reeves dudbuster, The Day the Earth Stood Still was driven by an ecological message. And here we have another documentary with a porpoise, sorry, purpose [journalistic licence should be revoked for that!] to educate the masses in preservation.
Former Dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry is on a journey of redemption after an epiphany bought on by years working on the kids classic television show Flipper revealed to him that keeping the bottle-nosed brainboxes in captivity was a bad idea. Duh!
With the assistance of documentary filmmaker Louie Psihoyos and his remarkably innovative team, O'Barry journeys to a sleepy little cove in Taiji on the coast of Japan . It's a stunning locale that makes some of the beautiful imagery seem effortless, but it exists behind the façade of a community that appears to dote on its whale pods and dolphin inhabitants but conceals a truly harrowing secret masked by “Keep Out” signs, barbed wire and the all too regular bloody dilution of the sea water.
Like most docs, The Cove is extremely one-sided – manipulative lines such as “ Their smile is natures greatest deception ”, revealed here to be facial contortion that indicates pain, are shamelessly reactionary – while not enough time is spent on the motivations of the Japanese poachers, beyond the fact that they want to take advantage of the multi-million pound industry of theme park spectacle and even worse the dinner table. What it is though is an extremely thrilling account of a very distressing series of events that certainly warrants further monitoring.
With a tight narrative informatively voiced by Mark Monroe that's polished with a fantastic soundtrack and cinematography, at times The Cove resembles fiction, despite the obvious fact on display. Even the poster looks a little like a Jaws spin off movie. The makers do everything in their power to grab your attention and make sure it stays focused on the slaughter of these intelligent creatures. You know what's going to be depicted before the lights go down – this isn't Finding Nemo - so it's commendable that the agenda still manages to strike a chord.