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The Cove 2009

Critics score:
94 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Amy Nicholson, Boxoffice Magazine: Skillful, unsparing and blessed with a great protagonist, The Cove is smart enough to stir up as much interest in its cause as Who Killed the Electric Car? did with the shuttered EV1, provided its post-festival word of mouth continues to build. Read more

Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times: The movie is a Trojan horse: an exceptionally well-made documentary that unfolds like a spy thriller, complete with bugged hotel rooms, clandestine derring-do and mysterious men in gray flannel suits. Read more

David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture: The end of The Cove is as rousing as anything from Hollywood. Manipulative? Sure -- but isn't that fitting? Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: The film makes its case graphically, to say the least, yet muddies its bloody waters with an excess of artifice and a dearth of facts. Read more

John Hartl, Seattle Times: For a generation that grew up with Flipper and The Day of the Dolphin, the tense, powerful new documentary, The Cove, is a horror movie. Read more

Jonathan F. Richards, The Cove is guerrilla journalism at its best. Structured and paced by director Louie Psihoyos as a thriller/caper movie, it brings audience-grabbing cinematic conventions to work in telling its story of dolphin genocide Read more

Ruth Hessey, MovieTime, ABC Radio National: In effect, by looking at nature The Cove shows us what it means to be human. Read more

Noel Murray, AV Club: The Cove offers a lot to think about in terms of the future of fishing, and Psihoyos' gift for using fiction-feature conventions does make a seemingly unpalatable subject entertaining. Read more

Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic: As the subject of a documentary, this grim enterprise distinctly lacks the warm and fuzzy appeal of The March of the Penguins. So director Louie Psihoyos ingeniously reinvents his film as a spy caper. Read more

Wesley Morris, Boston Globe: The Cove is a thriller in a classical sense. It's the first of these movies to tell a story with more than stock footage and on-camera interviews. It also smartly refracts a major ethical, ecological problem through the prism of guerrilla events. Read more

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: The Cove's story of a quiet village in Japan that specializes in clandestine dolphin slaughter is quite consciously structured as a thriller by director Louie Psihoyos who won an audience award for it at Sundance. Read more

Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader: Directed by Louie Psihoyos, this well-intentioned documentary exposes the harvesting of dolphins by Japanese fishermen, yet its theatrics suggest a cross between reality TV and Mission: Impossible. Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: Every once in a while it's good to see a movie that makes the blood boil. Read more

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: The Cove is one of the best in a growing class of nonfiction films Read more

Adam Graham, Detroit News: Beyond the high-stakes game of cat and mouse, the film explores the mysterious relationship between humans and dolphins and the unexplainable connection between our two species. Read more

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: The Cove doesn't always give you the facts you want. Yet its images of blood in the water are worth a thousand preachy words. Read more

Christine Champ, The Cove does what every great documentary with a cause should: It educates, entertains, and inspires audiences to take action. Read more

Connie Ogle, Miami Herald: The film is paced like a thriller, written as an expose and intended as a call to arms for ecologists, animal lovers and moviegoers around the world. Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: This film is less a work of journalism than a call to activism; movies like The Cove, to a certain extent, preach to the converted. Read more

Kyle Smith, New York Post: Two fins up for The Cove, a documentary that whales on evil Japanese fishermen who kill dolphins for lunch meat. Read more

Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer: A gripping thriller about dolphin trafficking, The Cove is an eco-mentary that's as passionate and persuasive an argument for change as An Inconvenient Truth. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: There are many documentaries angry about the human destruction of the planetary peace. This is one of the very best -- a certain Oscar nominee. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: It has the breathless pace of a Bourne movie, but none of the comfort of fiction. This is documentary filmmaking at its most exciting and purposeful. Read more

Andrew O'Hehir, The effectiveness of The Cove also comes from its explosive cinematic craft, its surprising good humor and its pure excitement. Read more

Amy Biancolli, San Francisco Chronicle: Psihoyos and his team got the footage they were after -- thanks to meticulous planning, lots of furtive sneaking around and the judicious placement of underwater microphones and cameras disguised as rocks. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Thrilling, impassioned and suspenseful as a spy caper, The Cove could launch a new sensibility for environmental documentaries. Read more

Michael Posner, Globe and Mail: There are five minutes in this documentary that ought to be mandatory viewing. The entire 90 minutes is utterly compelling, but the five alone are worth the price of admission. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: The Cove plays like the James Bond version of an environmental doc. It could also be viewed as a horror movie for the carnage it depicts. Yet it's quite simply one of the year's best movies. Read more

Ben Kenigsberg, Time Out: Read more

S. James Snyder, Time Out: Read more

Trevor Johnston, Time Out: There's an effective thriller element to this vividly assembled doc. Read more

Justin Chang, Variety: Casting a very wide net, this powerful polemic is simultaneously a love letter to a beloved species, an eye-opening primer on worldwide dolphin captivity, a playful paranoid thriller and a work of deep-seated (if sometimes hot-headed) moral outrage. Read more

Ella Taylor, Village Voice: The Cove is properly enchanting, horrifying, and rousing, but it comes dangerously close to making the narcissistic case that dolphins deserve to be saved because they're cute and breathe air like we do. Read more