If you ever had an interest in what farm life was like, you might enjoy following the day to day existence of Peter Dunning in “Peter and the Farm,” an American documentary directed by Tony Stone, showcased at the 2016 New Directors/New Films series and now in commercial release. The scene is Dunning’s farm in Vermont, where he leads a reclusive life devoted to daily farming chores.
The film follows Dunning in his routines, whether caring for animals or killing and skinning one. He blabbers a lot to us as he goes about his duties with casualness that reveals how deeply engrained his work is. He also enjoys drinking a lot.
One is hard pressed to like Dunning, as he is irascible and at times off-putting. Yet his lonely life, severed from his past wives and children, make one feel sorry for him. It is a hard life, and by the end of the film he indicates that he is fed up with it, but what else is there to do?
In the process we get an ultra-detailed view of the strenuous work it takes to keep up a farm. For one who has never had that experience, “Peter and the Farm” can seem like a richly informational travelogue. But I was happy to return to my New York City apartment. A Magnolia Pictures release. Reviewed November 4, 2016.