In this unexpectedly mo(o)ving documentary about a passionate dairy farmer struggling to make ends meet, directors Andy Heathcote and Heike Bachelier choose to quietly raise the issues within the dying family farming industry through the experiences of Steve Hook.
Hook comes across as a patient farmer, choosing to rear a small herd of cows and going to painstaking lengths to look after them. His dedication and hard work is admirable, but it’s his love for the cows that gives this documentary its emotional heart, and makes it more than just a plea to buy local produce. Ida is the cow that has been with Steve for the longest, and he cares for her like a pet. She stands as something of a symbol for what he is trying to achieve with his small farm; he wants his herd to have a happy life, and believes his produce is better for it.
Calming pastoral shots of the farm are contrasted with tense birthing scenes of calves, and it’s all held together by Steve’s ponderings and compassionate interactions with his animals. Heathcote takes his time in building up our narrator so you feel sympathy for his situation, but he also manages to evoke really touching moments. A charming character study, The Moo Man not only paints a pleasant picture about a dying breed but also says much about our changing times and social responsibility.