Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review - Project Nim

Project Nim, from Man on Wire's Oscar-winning director James Marsh, tells the harrowing life story of a chimp named Nim who, back in the 70s, was separated from his mother at birth so that he could be taught sign language. The film avoids ever feeling too clinical or obsessed with the science of the situation (which is more than can be said for some of the people involved in Nim's tale). Rather, Marsh makes a point of bubbling the emotions to the surface of this sobering tale; Not only Nim's emotions, as they are perceived by the human teachers and caregivers who surrounded him for years, but their emotions as well, if not more so. While there are strategically manipulative moments of optimism and joy to be had, it's ultimately an appalling and very sad saga that raises serious questions about what standards should exist for the humane treatment of animals, and also the dangers that working so closely with animals pose to people. It would make a fascinating double feature with this summer's Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

*** out of ****

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