Rodents of Unusual Size (NR)

Documentary 71 min. September 14, 2018
By Karen Han
As suggested by its title (which audiences likely will associate with The Princess Bride), Rodents of Unusual Size possesses a lightness of touch. The documentary, directed by Chris Metzler, Jeff Springer and Quinn Costello, and narrated by Wendell Pierce, uses cartoon diagrams and a cheerful score by the Lost Bayou Ramblers to make its tale of inherited destruction and trauma as charming as possible. The way that initial ease peels back is the film’s greatest asset.

The focus is on southern Louisiana’s struggle with an invasive species of rodent, the nutria. The local population’s efforts to use the nutria as a source of food and fur comes from equal parts resourcefulness and necessity; grimmer parts of the doc showcase the hunters who are paid $5 per tail as an incentive for helping clear them out, and cameras don’t shy away from the piles of animal carcasses they leave in their wake. The film demonstrates a surprising — and commendable — frankness, especially as its creators interview those working to stay afloat amid hurricanes and nutria-accelerated coastal erosion. One fisherman-turned-hunter (who points out his old refrigerator, lodged in a tree by a hurricane) holds up a dead nutria, and isn’t the least bit begrudging when he says, despite the damage the animal has wrought, “It wants to survive, just like me.”
Quinn Costello, Chris Metzler, Jeff Springer Wendell Pierce Quinn Costello, Chris Metzler, Jeff Springer

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