Does a lot well, and it is a shame that the slaughtering of a pig for the film will be the thing that impacts and stays with you the most
This is not an easy film to comment on, and nor was it an easy film to watch. At its heart there is a decent father/son conflict, which sees a well crafted interplay between the two, which delivers a lot between words and in looks. However on the other hand, all of this is based around the slaughtering of a pig which will be pretty much what you remember, and what many comments sections will undoubtedly focus on. This is because the slaughter is real it is a real pig that we see killed by humane methods and then cut up for food (within the narrative of the film anyway). I say humanely, but for those of us who have grown up with our animals walking around outside, and then our meat on a plate, and no connecting experiences, it is brutally disturbing to watch an animal be killed and dissected.
After this comes the thoughts about what we are watching, because this is not a documentary but rather a piece of drama, and this pig (assuming it was just one) was killed specifically for this film to be made. I am not sure how I feel about that. I probably am okay with it on this scale, although the idea that an animal would die for the sake of producing a short film is a bit of a gray area the bigger thing for me in the context of this film though, is that I was thinking about this aspect of it while watching the film. This is not to say that the content of the father/son relationship is not engaging (it is) but just that this central device was so strong of a statement that it is really hard not to fixate on it. Even if you do not get into the rights and wrongs of eating meat or killing animals, the impact of seeing it when you are not used to it is distracting, as is the question around doing it for the sake of art. Where I land on this I am not totally sure yet however I know it impacted on my ability to listen to the film.
This is a shame, because although a well-worn path, there is good writing and direction here, to bring out a lot with a little. The father/son relationship here is not a good one in any way; whether it be the simmering resentment between the two, the son's feeling that he is as big a disappointment as his father thinks, the father's inability to do anything about this situation other than punish for it, all of these things are clear yet understated all the way through to the unhealthy way that the only bond the two seem to have is that they stubbornly bury their pain and wear that ability as a badge of honor. All of this is familiar but is still professionally crafted and delivered. The direction of the actors gets the most from them without spelling everything out from their lines; meanwhile the production values are high, with a grey but clear coloring, and earthy approach and tight focus.
So with the film doing a lot right, there is a certain irony that the thing that sticks in the mind is the graphic killing of a pig. It is great as a central device, but at the same time it does tend to overshadow what the film is actually trying to do.
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