Do you ever find yourself with a backlog of worthy, critically lauded films you’re almost certain you’d like but almost certain not to watch? Yes, I do, and I even worm my way out of the guilt for neglecting them. Because in my mental filing cabinet, they’re all under “Will watch”. It’s just that the films I’m actually going to watch aren’t in that file, they’re in the “Ooh, lasers!” one.
Even before it won the best documentary Oscar, this apparently brilliant film about the slaughter of dolphins was in the “Will watch” file. But actually, it should have been in the “Ooh, lasers!” file. Or at least the “Ooh, midnight stealth missions with an international team of specialists using thermal optics to dodge guard patrols and infiltrate an enemy compound with geographical fortification to plant hydrophones and cameras disguised as rocks” file. Because there’s honestly not much in that one yet.
You’ve probably already heard that it’s brilliant, and it is, but don’t assume as I did that means ‘brilliantly important’ or ‘brilliantly depressing’. It’s actually a hugely exciting piece of film from the opening credits to the end, revolving around the bizarre story of the man who captured and trained Flipper. That show sparked a global fascination with Bottlenose dolphins that led to the macabre events in a well-hidden cove in Japan, and the climax of the film is his own mission to infiltrate that cove and record what happens there.
It’s simultaneously an amazing biopic, a tense espionage thriller and a fascinating expose of the Japanese government’s cover-up. And giving a shit about dolphins is optional – the story’s compelling enough without empathy to drive it.