The Moo Man
Directed by Andy Heathcote
Modern British dairy farms must get bigger and bigger or go under but Farmer Stephen Hook decides to buck the trend. Instead he chooses to have a great relationship with his small herd of cows and ignore the big supermarkets and dairies. The result is a laugh-out-loud emotional roller-coaster of a film, a heart warming tearjerker about the incredible bonds between man, animal and countryside in a fast disappearing England.
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★★★½ review by Adam Cook on Letterboxd
The Moo Man is a rather unexpected documentary. From its synopsis - essentially following the daily routine of a dairy farmer - it hardly sounds like the most riveting way to spend a couple of hours, yet whilst Andy Heathcote and Heike Bachelier’s fly on the wall film is undoubtedly slow and gentle it is also strangely moving and illuminating.
Set on a bucolic Sussex farm, The Moo Man follows dairy farmer, Stephen Hook, who shuns modern ‘go bigger’ farming methods in favour of a smaller herd and ignoring supermarkets altogether. With his 72 strong herd he sells raw unpasteurised milk directly to the locals. Although the film paints an idyllic and old fashioned picture of farming life it also documents the long hours, hard work and difficulties it brings.
Despite living in a rural area I have little interest in the workings of farms but still found this sedate documentary fascinating. It has a leisurely rhythm that becomes quite hypnotic after a while whilst Stephen Hook’s determination to bypass the supermarkets altogether is commendable. It is part lament to the death of the family farms in Britain but also an exploration of man’s connection with nature.
The most poignant moments in the documentary come with Stephen’s intimate connection with the animals he makes a living from. Although their economic worth is never in doubt there is a very real and genuine bond between farmer and cows as he cares for his small herd. They are not simply commodities to be exploited for monetary gain but an important part of his life.
There is nothing flash about the film’s rough style or its no nonsense subject matter but that all adds to the documentary’s unexpected charms. The Moo Man is a heartwarming and bittersweet gem.
★★★½ review by Chris on Letterboxd
Unpretentious and somewhat endearing film about a man and his cows on a small farm in England. The broader picture is that these sorts of farms are dying in England due to the larger corporate enterprises that supply supermarkets and the like. This man adjusts his business strategy to keep going in the traditional old way - organic- caring for the cows and direct to the customer. Interesting.
★★★½ review by Andy Gyurisin on Letterboxd
A simple movie about a man and his cows. Too often, especially with documentaries centered around food, we are bombarded by information on the cruelty of animals, the mass-production of the product, and the poor pinch of the corporation on the farmer themselves, but with THE MOO MAN Heathcote allows the cows and the very patient farmer Stephen Hook talk for themselves. This documentary is not in your face, it does not use camera tricks to sell the story, it is exactly what is presented in the image to this film. It is a story of a man and his cows, and I have to tell you - it was one of the better documentaries about food and the horrible treatment of farmers around the world. This is a British story, but the struggles that Hook goes through can easily be translated around the world. The struggle with money, the day to day job, the fact that you have someone who loves what he does but just wants to be paid accordingly is not too difficult to ask. Our food industry is in a sad sad state of affairs and THE MOO MAN demonstrates the struggle and joys of our food culture. It is sad, but not painful. It is true and honest, and I believe the best way to get the message out about our farming community. You may have your flash zooms and painful images of cows being treated inhumanly, but for me - I felt more inspired hearing and watching the Hook family do what they do best - treat animals with respect and the honor they deserve. I will highly suggest THE MOO MAN over FAST FOOD NATION or even PLACE AT THE TABLE, the story was just sublime.
★★★½ review by Niall Blackie on Letterboxd
Documentary telling the very simple story of one dairy farmer in England and his relationship with his herd. Looking at the downsides of farming including the financial difficulties faced but also the sheer enjoyment he seems to get out of it.
This was a nice, if a bit too basic a story. Hey at least the farmer's heart is in the right place.
★★★½ review by Paul Anthony Nelson on Letterboxd
Sweet, delicately paced look at UK organic dairy farm grows ever more involving, as farmer, his herd and ethos endear.
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