out of Five
Running time: 97
An uplifting and refreshing documentary about one farmer’s dedication to his 55 cows, The Moo Man is an entertaining and sometimes emotional film that underlines a worrying issue about family farms in Britain.
What’s it all about?
Filmed over four years in Southern England, The Moo Man is directed by Andy Heathcote and Heike Bachelier and follows Steve Hook, a chirpy farmer who’s struggling to save his family farm. Turning his back on the cost cutting dairies and supermarkets in favour of selling direct to his consumers at markets, Steve devotes himself to his 55 cows in the hope that treating them well and staying local will put his unprocessed milk in high demand. As time goes by, Steve, who relies on working tax credits to get by, fears that he’s being ripped off and when a vet discovers tuberculosis in his herd, his future as a farmer looks uncertain. Steve’s luck then takes a bigger turn for the worse when his favourite cow, Ida, falls ill.
Beautifully shot and wholly engaging, The Moo Man is a thoroughly enjoyable documentary that can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster at times. Both funny and heart-rending, this documentary is compassionate and forthright in its depiction of the daily struggles of a modern day farmer and it gets so close to Steve that it’s impossible not to feel heartbroken when watching his regular knock-backs.
The undeniable highlight of this enjoyable film is Steve’s relationship with his star cow, Ida. Introduced in an uplifting scene where a very proud-looking Steve takes her to Eastbourne for the day, Ida becomes almost humanised by Steve’s love and affection for her and the bond they share is lovely and touching. Steve’s pleasantness also makes him incredibly likeable as a central focus and so it’s impossible not to feel sorry for the chap in his disheartened discussions about his financial struggles. Finally, The Moo Man does well in communicating the increasing difficulties of independent dairy farms in Britain, to the point where watching it might make you rethink where you buy your milk next week.
With its endearing central relationship, gentle pace and strong editing, The Moo Man is an intimate and uplifting film that’s a walk in the park to watch. Recommended.