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A Place at the Table - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
cinema_holic
cinema_holic
A Place at the Table
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Directing: B+
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B
Editing: A-



There's something unusual about A Place at the Table, a documentary about hunger in America. These kinds of films usually feel like they are just preaching to the choir. What people on the opposing side of the issue is going to be in the audience at them? Sadly, the same is likely the case here. But -- there is also the strong sense that, given the right people, this one could actually change minds.

I went into this myself thinking it was not likely to tell me anything I didn't already know. But it did. It offered information that really made me think. Very early on in the film, we meet a woman in Colorado who actually has a job as a waitress -- and she takes home $120 every two weeks. Whaaa??

It's so easy for "no government handouts" conservatives to dismiss people on government assistance as moochers. So what are they going to tell the man who works two jobs and whose wife works at a job she has to drive an hour to get to, and they still can't make ends meet? We're talking about working people here, and they can't afford decent food.

Often times, they can't afford food at all. It's ridiculous that the cheapest food is all fat and sugar and empty calories and fresh fruits and vegetables are exponentially more expensive. This is how we end up with kids that are overweight and yet regularly have to go hungry. Ever heard of a "food desert"? These are areas -- and they are many -- where people have to travel long distances just to find stores that sell any produce at all.

There are plenty of people out there trying to make things better. A Place at the Table finds a small handful of them. That only one of those people is a U.S. Congressman is a pathetic reflection of the state of affairs in this country.

This movie makes the case, rather convincingly, that charitable donations and food banks alone are not the answer. Children need to be conditioned of these things, from a very young age, and it needs to be something ingrained in the culture. That means, yes, wide-ranging government programs -- which have been systematically cut since the eighties. Meanwhile, agricultural organizations that make the crops glutting processed foods are vastly subsidized. It's astounding that Congress doesn't see the disconnect.

So, some people have to take things into their own hands. I think the teacher who has all the kids in her class examine and then taste a honeydew melon is my new favorite person. The kids love it. She asks if they like the honeydew melon or their usual chips better; over half the kids say they like the melon better. The teacher encourages them to ask for fruit instead of other snacks the next time they're with their parents grocery shopping.

It's an inspired scene, but it's one with a frustrating road block in too many parts of the country: what if they live in "food desert"? Some of those kids might go grocery shopping, ask their parent for a honeydew melon, and discover the store doesn't sell any melons at all.

This is a film that underscores the insanity of living in a country with more than enough food for all its citizens, and yet over 50 million of those citizens simply don't have access to healthy food. There's nothing sensationalistic about this movie; there's little in the way of clever graphics and no cornball stunts. It just shows regular, real people, who appear to be perfectly reasonable. And they're hungry. Why is this happening in a county that's supposed to be the envy of the world? Well, actually, it kind of isn't. On the plus side, A Place at the Table encourages a shift in thinking, and you leave the theatre considering how you can make a difference. That can only be a good thing.

Struggling to feed children healthy food in A PLACE AT THE TABLE.


Overall: B+
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