With great concision and clarity, vet Brit documentarian Molly Dineen builds from a seemingly slight urban protest of fox hunting to a profound look at the ravages of Western culinary “progress” in “The Lie of the Land.” Graphic images of animal slaughter are not for the squeamish, but do shockingly serve Dineen’s point that consumers’ protection from gory details impairs their judgment of food quality and much more. Particularly as the number of family farms continues to diminish as the supermarket system goes global, Dineen’s film, winner of the BAFTA docu award, could stir audiences anywhere, on screens big or, more likely, small.
Shooting the film entirely herself, Dineen visits a trio of U.K. farmers being squeezed by big business and the public’s appetite for cheap eats from who knows where. Even healthy animals pay dearly, as market values make many of them far cheaper to sell for hunting-dog food than to farm.
“Lie” is the rare docu that makes one wish for more narration, although v.o.’s absence from the pic’s last third reflects the subjective complexity of the issues surrounding man’s co-habitation of Earth with animals that understand and feel, and Dineeen’s humility in the face of it.
That the film’s study of a deeply threatened way of life makes room for Glenn, a bourgeois farmer residing with his wife in a palatial, lovingly restored old home, further testifies to the breadth of Dineen’s p.o.v. even at a relatively short running time. “Modern and the old, isn’t it?” a poorer farmer succinctly surmises while standing in front a satellite dish.
Pic’s look at Darwinism reveals people, as well as animals, being tragically trampled under foot. Tech credits are suitably barebones.