The Biggest Little Farm is a new documentary film directed by John Chester. The movie features Chester and his wife Molly as they work to create a sustainable farm that is effectively a thriving and balanced ecosystem on its own. It has played at festivals including the 2018 Telluride Film Festival and the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
The film’s story is definitely very interesting. Agriculture documentaries are not a new thing, but they do seem to have become less prevalent in recent years. This story is enjoyable and intriguing because of the multiple layers it has in it. Not only is it about farming, it also deals with topics such as family the relationships between organisms within an ecosystem. Despite the fact that the movie handles such a wide range of material, it never feels overwhelming.
The documentary practice of inserting oneself into a story has always been somewhat questionable, although it mostly works in this case because the documentarian is the story. However, the film still does have a feeling of self-centeredness on it, especially when Chester is talking about his mentor or dog to whom he dedicates this movie. This is obvious and noticeable, but not particularly annoying.
Chester did a good job of conveying his personality through the film and making himself compelling, although he could have done a slightly better job of making the other people in the movie more sympathetic. For example, we learn very little about his wife other than she loves to cook and that it was her dream to start a farm like this. Why couldn’t her side of the story been explored more deeply?
Ultimately, the message of the film is that we are relatively small in comparison to the scale of the world and the universe. As humans, there are a ton of things that we can’t see going on, both large and small, and disrupting those natural processes can have tremendous consequences on us and the world in which we live. This is a very powerful and effectively-delivered message that people need to hear.
The main reason why this movie is worth watching is the absolutely beautiful cinematography. Chester is undeniably a very talented filmmaker with a great eye, and all of the camera operators who worked on the film have a ton of skill and talent. There are so many great nature shots, some of which are goody and entertaining and others are awe-inspiring in the beauty they portray. If this wasn’t going to be released in the middle of blockbuster season, it would be deserving of shows on IMAX and other large format screens.
The rest of the execution is also very strong. There are a few sequences which incorporate animation to help break down some of the more technical concepts associated with farming practices. These are cute and help the audience understand some of what is going on in the movie. The score is also quite good, with the cheery music giving the film a bouncy and enjoyable tone.
Overall, The Biggest Little Farm was a very good documentary. Although the story does feel a bit egocentric, it is interesting nonetheless and the movie features some of the most beautiful camerawork you may see all year.
The Biggest Little Farm opens in theaters on May 10.