In the fields, we see them, extended on the grass or grazing peacefully. Large placid beasts that we thought we knew because they are livestock. Lions, gorillas, bears have our attention, but has anyone ever really looked at the cows? Has asked what they were doing with their days? What do they do when a storm passes? When the sun comes back? What do they think when they stand motionless, seemingly contemplating the void? But, in fact, do they think? The rhythm of the animal, in the middle of a herd, “Bovines” chronicles the life of cows, true.
So as to not ruin the surprise of this film, and the journey from initial shock to realization to acceptance and wonder, it does best to give away as little as possible. Just to say, in this instance, the title truly does say it all.
What can be said is that this movie is it is absolutely beautiful, deftly crafted, highly original, and perhaps like no other movie experience. It is a meditative movie, full of long, slow, gorgeous shots. A close-up of rain falling on a puddle may sound pretentious, but if you let yourself be with this movie, you realize it beats any 3-D CGI in an aesthetics match-up, hands-down. And, once you get over the initial giggle of the premise, you find yourself sucked into another world, indeed, another state of consciousness. When human farmers do eventually enter the picture for a few moments, you see them as strange and menacing a creature as a cow would. You realize you have become cow.
That may not sound like a fun weekend blockbuster, but Bovines is in fact the perfect date movie. It’s fun, gentle, loving. And one bit of instruction for you, the audience, which is not advised for any other movie: TALK. That’s right, talk during the movie. In its silence and meditation, through its un-human interaction, this is a film that opens you up to new forms of communication and awareness. The power of the film is the way it raises so many questions about the lives of animals, and you’ll just wanna talk. Or moo.
Oh, and one other tip: unless you wanna feel guilty, I’d have chicken and not the beef for dinner. Or, better yet, just some grass.
– St John McKay