Director: John Chester
Cast: John Chester, Molly Chester
Screenplay: John Chester, Mark Monroe
91 mins. Rated PG for mild thematic elements.
The Biggest Little Farm is a documentary about John and Molly Chester, husband and wife who, along with their dog Todd, move onto 200 acres with an attempt to create a farm that is completely self-sufficient. The film is a moving tapestry on the collective complexity and balance of the nature all around us as John, Molly, and Todd try to overcome the numerous obstacles surrounding their endeavor.
If you have seen The Biggest Little Farm’s trailer, then you will know what the movie is like. The trailer sells it quite well. The documentary is a tough but informative viewpoint of a very difficult journey. I saw this family come to their breaking points in the search to be self-sufficient. I learned a lot about waste and the farm life and the difficulties of providing for oneself. It’s a powerful look at this lifestyle, seen on the grandest of scales.
It’s also the story of a family and their dog. Todd is integral to the film, and he is the emotional backbone driving the story. The way John and Molly view their pet as a child that they are unwilling to part with (the driving force of starting a farm is their neighbor’s complaints about barking) drives the central narrative forward with heart.
It’s also maybe a little too unremarkable from a filmmaking standpoint. The animation used to string the film together is rather dull, and the plot does get rather monotonous as problems stack up and solutions are troublingly tough to find. I guess that’s the point, but the film does feel about 20 minutes too long by the end of it.
The Biggest Little Farm is not the most impressive documentary ever made from a technical standpoint, but it also doesn’t really need to be as it tackles an important issue and an interesting story. I love when docs can pull me into a world I know nothing about and teach me without making me feel like I’m being taught. This was a sweet story that may be a little too long but is still quite worth it.
-Kyle A. Goethe