Peter and the Farm (2016)
I can’t quite recall why I was so interested to see this film – it must have played a festival or something and looked intriguing. The promotional images are beautiful, and must have been what drew me in. Through the magic of Facebox, I discovered Peter is a cousin of some old friends, a black sheep keeper of sheep. Whatever happened, I missed it the first time around, but it turned up recently on the ‘flx, so I took it in one spring evening.
The scenery, the farm in Vermont, is gorgeous, a little bleak, full of animals and dirt. Peter, the irascible organic farmer, is getting old and he and the farm are past their prime. He started out in the 70s, a back-to-the-lander artist with a wife and soon a family. Over the years, the farm has become more important than the art or the family or anything else. The filmmakers drive the point home – it turns out farming is really hard work!
The filmmakers are present in the film here and there, as well as some mysterious, unexplained women, one of whom looks like the director’s wife, although through some sloppy editing it appears she is sleeping with Peter. The film is only about Peter, really, so do we care who these mystery ladies are? Well, yes, because the overall tone of the film is really rather ridiculously macho, and the inclusion voices of the (male) filmmakers and exclusion of the voices of the women only adds to this.
The old “hand lost in a sawmill” story is related over picture of the neck-tattooed-director helping Peter saw up some old wood with a power saw. Nobody is wearing any protective gear, and they are working pretty quickly, daring the saw to take another limb. Tough guys.
I like Ebert’s review, here. Since I was watching this on the ‘flx, and not in the theatre, I was able to >> through the gratuitous scenes of death and gore, which is always good news for me. Overall, the film was OK. I wasn’t as moved by it as I was expecting to be, and Peter wasn’t as interesting as expected – just another old drunk misanthrope man – this is really a tired trope by now! As I said, the scenery is beautiful. It made me want to own a farm but not run it as a business – too life-consuming.