Review: Meat Cravings (2015)


Directed by: Marijn Frank | 74 minutes | documentary

“Vleesjunk” Marijn Frank (known from the Keuringsdienst vanwaarden) tries in the documentary “Vleesverlangen” to get rid of her addiction to meat. She argues that an internship at a cow slaughterhouse and a visit to 100,000 roost chickens can give her relationship with meat a greater awareness, temper her unsuspecting meat consumption, so that she can be a better example for her little daughter, who is the only one in Frank’s house who has never had meat. has been fed.

The subject of this personal film will be recognizable to many Western viewers and the recent research into the media into the (adverse) consequences of eating a lot, and especially processed meat, makes the documentary (premiere at IDFA 2015) very topical. Yet such a search is not new. Exactly a year ago, IDFA showed the documentary “That Sugar Film”, in which the young documentary maker Damon Gameau investigated the enormous impact of sugar in the body through the arrival of his first child. The horrors of factory farming have also been covered in several books and movies. Why is this film worth it? Frank keeps things close to herself and, besides the problems, mainly looks at the possible solutions for herself and everyone in a similar situation.

The reasons for not eating meat are obvious and quite urgent: the enormous burden on the environment, the horrible animal suffering that the factory farming produces and the harmful effects on one’s own health would be reason enough to stop eating meat immediately. . Yet only 3% of the Dutch population is vegetarian, and a large part of the Dutch do not consider a meal as complete when the meat is missing. How is that possible? The reasons for eating meat are a lot less convincing: because it is just so delicious. Marijn Frank adds: because as a vegetarian you often have so little choice in restaurants and because men who eat (or prepare) a juicy steak are simply so wildly attractive. She knows that the “pros” don’t outweigh the “cons,” but she can’t pass up the meatballs, bacon, sausages and filet americain sandwiches.

A brain scan even shows that her brain is more strongly stimulated by seeing pictures of fried animal meat than naked male meat. This conclusion that meat also has to do with lust is reflected in scenes that depict Frank’s meat fantasies: being wrapped naked in roast beef and being massaged by the firm hands of a handsome chef: although nicely conceived, these interludes distract from the main storyline; Frank’s personal dilemma and the lack of connection between the meat we eat and the animal it is made of.

From the psychologist Frank speaks with, she (and the viewer with her) learns about the importance of the infinite shades of gray in which subjects appear in our lives and she realizes how much she wants to get rid of the black-and-white thinking about meat consumption. By reconnecting meat to the animals sacrificed for our consumption – the exact opposite of what supermarkets and the mass meat industry do – she learns to show more reverence and awareness for every bite of meat. Her internship at an organic slaughterhouse run by very good-natured and sober men is the strongest part of this: the film and her search come together in the emotional climax: does Frank manage to put a bullet in the head of an adult cow? These scenes make the dilemma, more than the domestic scenes, the conversations with the psychologist and the flesh fantasies, palpable and confrontational, and with this the film leaves the viewer with admiration and renewed insights.

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