The Meerkats James Honeyborne

The Meerkats James Honeyborne
Perhaps the biggest surprise about this faux-narrative, pseudo-documentary is just how boundlessly cynical and depressing it is, not inspiring the sense of enduring spirit in maturation intended, working more as an existential downer. Seriously, all these meerkats do is scrounge desperately for food and fight off other tribes and various predators, only to watch most of their family die. Why bother at all? Then again, after the filmmakers spent a good six months in the Kalahari Desert obtaining the extensive and beautifully rendered footage used in this film, they may have been thinking just that. In assembling various takes of spunky little meerkats frolicking about, a voiceover from the late Paul Newman details the triumphs and struggles of young Kolo, the black sheep of his litter. He's a little too curious about the world around him, strolling too far from his family, often putting himself and others in danger from eagles, lions and snakes. Eventually, one of his peregrinations results in the death of his brother, and role model, an elder protector and caregiver in his family. At times, the little critters come close to starvation, unable to find the bugs and scorpions they usually feed on, driving home the fragility of their existence. In addition to some circle-of-life notions, the message here is mainly that youthful curiosity can lead to death and tragedy in a world where rules, order and formality equate continued living. Maybe being eaten by the hawk wouldn't have been such a bad thing after all. Considering that the narrative is entirely constructed and footage is clearly re-used, not cutting together properly, at times, The Meerkats is surprisingly coherent and engaging, overall. Establishing shots of the Kalahari Desert are also quite wondrous, giving us a glimpse of a world free from industrial noise. No supplements are included with the DVD. (Alliance)