DVD Review: Living Things

STUDIO: Cinema Libre | DIRECTOR: Eric Shapiro | CAST: Rhoda Jordan, Ben Siegler
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 4/15/2014 | PRICE: DVD $19.95
SPECS: rating | 75 min. | Drama | widescreen | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall


The 2014 drama Living Things offers a debate over dinner between Rhona (Rhoda Jordan), a vegan, and Leo (Ben Siegler), her carnivore father-in-law, on the ethics of eating animals vs. a plant-only diet. The action primarily takes place around the dining room table giving it the feel of watching a stage play—sort of a My Dinner with Andre about eating lifestyles.

Living Things

Rhoda Jordan and Ben Siegler talk food in Living Things.

Writer/director Eric Shapiro has a background in horror films and it can be seen here as many of his set-ups increasingly reflect the tone of a horror movie as the argument increases in intensity. Blurry medium shots of a Rhona prepping the dinner, opening the kitchen drawer or answering the phone are used to build up the suspense, just as they do in horror cinema. And close-ups of Leo’s face as his anger begins to get the better of him is Shapiro’s way of heightening the tone as the argument intensifies from philosophical beliefs to cursing and violence.

As a vegetarian myself, I have been in this kind of situation many times: The old vegan argument of “the needless suffering of animals” versus the newer one of “plants having feelings” intrigued me. I was recently confronted by this and was curious to hear how the argument played out. There are a few good points made on both sides but, unfortunately, the movie itself is simply boring. It takes 40 minutes to argue if they should actually debate before they even begin with core basis of the film.

Rhoda Jordan is a vegan (not to mention Shaprio’s wife) and I get the realism in her performance, while Ben Siegler makes a powerful stand as the angry right-winger. The director’s tone of “in your face” with the fighting did resound with me—it’s hard not to get too passionate when someone attacks your belief system by debasing it with saying “it’s just a dietary phase choice.”


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About Jenna

Jenna Miller studied theater and is a huge film buff. She has been regaling her family with her reviews since elementary school.