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Forks Over Knives - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Forks Over Knives
Directing: B-
Writing: B-
Cinematography: C+
Editing: B-

Writer-director (and, in a way, star) Lee Fulkerson's attempt at addressing bias in his documentary Forks Over Knives is to feature a doctor talking about how he admits to bias but has managed to change his beliefs by looking at research. The problem -- among many -- of this film is that it seems to equate recognizing bias with being objective. And objective this film is not.

To its credit, it still took me far closer to considering a vegan diet than ever before. It cites evidence of the health benefits of cutting out (or radically decreasing) not just meat, but dairy as well, in a way that is both compelling and nearly impossible to refute. Fulkerson, who himself undergoes an experimental shift in eating habits to see the effects on his health -- making a show in the opening scene of how many Red Bulls and Cokes he drank in the car on his way to the doctor's office -- cites countless studies that were done all over the world over years at a time. And they pretty much all draw the same conclusions: the idea that the best proteins come from meat and dairy is a myth, and all the protein anyone needs (as well as any and all other needed nutrients) can be found in what grows out of the ground.

Forks Over Knives is not going to be a popular movie. It doesn't help that, predictably, in the screening I went to, very few people were eating concession stand snacks. They're all full of the crap this movie urges us to avoid, particularly processed foods.

And that's actually part of the problem. Who but the already converted is going to go out of their way to see this movie? It might have slightly more of a chance it if were slickly produced and offered some wit and humor to leaven the proceedings, but instead it comes across in much the same way as a stereotypical vegan: flimsy and unkempt. Much of the cinematography is more amateur looking than I've seen in a documentary in a long time; in a few scenes the sound is so bad it has the quality of stock video footage from twenty years ago.

Fulkerson is undergoing this diet-based health experiment with a married couple who are MDs and both advocates of the so-called "whole foods, plant-based diet." Maybe their office isn't run out of their home, but it sure looks like it. It can be difficult to decide if these doctors are worthy of being rooted for as underdogs, or if their environment is suspect. How often do you get medical test results from a laptop on a tiny table in what could very well be someone's breakfast nook?

Granted, these kinds of judgments are a big part of why alternative treatments get such a bad rap. We're conditioned to think the only valid form of treatment is via pills administered in a sterile room by people in white lab coats. And Fulkerson makes valid argument after valid argument to the contrary.

It's just too bad his film couldn’t play a little less like something you'd expect to sit through in a high school health class. Except, of course, this film probably never will be. It doesn't help that Fulkerson only finds a couple of government representatives to defend federal dietary recommendations, which of course stress the importance of meat and dairy. I'm actually one of the people who thinks these people are mostly full of shit, but Fulkerson fails miserably at illustrating this in a way that could sway skeptics. Why does he not once directly ask them to respond to the quite convincing conclusions drawn by the multitude of studies he's citing in his film? It leads one to wonder if maybe they'd have some convincing counter-arguments that he's selectively leaving out of his narrative.

Instead, he interviews several people with a number of chronic conditions -- from diabetes to cancer -- that were either stopped in their tracks or outright reversed by switching to either a vegan or near-vegan diet. In some instances the film follows this process from start to finish. These are incredible cases and they are indeed inspiring. And the studies, particularly a massive one done in China that makes jaw-dropping correlations between lifetime dietary habits and all sorts of cancers, are truly eye-opening. I happen to already be a vegetarian, so I needed no convincing there; but this information alone had me seriously considering a major cutback in my dairy intake.

But I, of course, am part of the choir to which this film is preaching. To the already faithful, Forks Over Knives feels a lot like sweet validation. But to the unconverted, it's unlikely to come across as anything but a lecture.

Lee Fulkerson looks at his test results after </a>

Overall: B-
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