Review: ‘Steak (R)evolution’ offers disorganized enlightenment Special

Posted Aug 10, 2015 by Sarah Gopaul
‘Steak (R)evolution’ is a fascinating documentary that travels the world, exploring how different farming techniques and breeds of cow affect the flavour of meat.
A scene from ‘Steak (R)evolution’
A scene from ‘Steak (R)evolution’
Kino Lorber
There is a growing desire to know where one’s food comes from and how it’s cultivated. Various documentaries and investigative news articles have highlighted concerns regarding processed foods, farming systems and countless other practices that could affect people’s health and eating habits. While there’s undoubtedly some fear mongering associated with many of these topics, the concept of being more conscious of what goes into your body is a sound one. But the other factor that probably receives attention equal to nutritional value is quality, which is the subject of the majority of other films. Steak (R)evolution travels the world in search of the best tasting cow.
In his feature directorial debut, Franck Ribière takes on the onerous (?) task of searching the globe for the best steak, journeying to Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Spain, Sweden, UK and United States. He visits the farms on which the cows are raised, observing and comparing their treatment and feed as well as the influences of different breeds on the type of meat they produce. He speaks with butchers about their approach to educating their customers and restaurateurs on how they select and prepare their cuts. The film also chronicles the world’s 10 best eateries according to Ribière, for which all of these factors play a part.
The subject of this documentary is fascinating. While people have preferences regarding how well their beef is cooked, there is so much more to consider when selecting the perfect steak. Even someone who considers themselves versed in red meat may be unaware of the varieties available around the world, their origins or their histories, including cross-breeding and climate adaptation. Treatment of the livestock varies from hay massages to a continuous classical soundtrack to diets that consist of grass and/or cereal. It’s surprising how much of an impact each of these factors can have on the natural flavour of the meat. On the other hand, some people may find this amount of detail about their food completely unappealing. But it all comes down to personal taste.
However, the film’s ability to make viewers hungry is not a reflection on its craftsmanship, which is unfortunately lacking. Its main offence is the presentation of the list that jumps randomly between numbers rather than showing them in an ascending order. It appears the filmmakers decided they wanted the narrative to unfold in a certain sequence and therefore edited the footage to fit that arrangement, ignoring the disorderly ranking of the restaurants. This issue could have been somewhat resolved by recapping the list at the end of the movie. Additionally, there are countless artsy shots of the landscape that could have been pared down.
In spite of its flaws, the film is very educational, and inspires audiences to be a little more informed and adventurous with their dinner choices.
Director: Franck Ribière