Low Quality: Our Review of ‘Bread: An Everyday Miracle’

Posted in Movies, Virtual Cinema, What's Streaming? by - July 09, 2020
Low Quality: Our Review of ‘Bread: An Everyday Miracle’

Bread was on everyone’s lips, Instagram feeds, and taste buds a few news cycles ago, and arguably, it still is. Online publications still write about the basic food product at least twice a week. A documentary about that food with the title, um, Bread: An Everyday Miracle, shows how the experts do it. Mostly having a European focus, it shows two sides of the bread debate. The first are the artisanal bakers like Christophe Vasseur who believes that good bread takes a long time to make. He contrasts his success, small as it is, to the schools and factories that make bread quickly. But that speed and standardization comes at the cost of consumer’s health. His bread is healthy, the kind that Swedish scientists prefer.

The second side, the side also responsible for providing customers with loaves of bread, are corporate entities like the Puratos Group, calling themselves the way of the future. They even have a project that makes them want to take bread to Mars. Audiences might misconstrue the Puratos PR guy’s statement as a way of saying that bakers like Christophe belong to the past. But the PR guy sees himself and his Belgian office as a teaching tool and a bridge between bakers, supermarkets, and customers. Customers deserve high quality breads. And we can interpret Puratos’ role in the industry in many ways, positive or negative. The PR guy says that they are not stealing, they are innovating, and he does spend some time in the bakery. But the accusations, and the deflection from such accusations, are still there.

Bread is a documentary where either PR guys and Austrian and German CEOs talk about their successes or where small-time bakers put bread on their shelves. These bakers argue, rightly, that their product is essential, as it has been for centuries. Watching them make the sausage or, um, bread is mildly interesting. And it is good that the movie does not have a bias even if I do. But that lack of bias makes it less interesting, making it a lesser example within a genre that does not use narrators or context. Sometimes the subjects speaking for themselves is not enough for a narrative push. If anything, the David and Goliath relationship between the artisans and the big groups feels reductive.

One other thing about Bread is that a significant part of it is food porn. It shows all kinds of baked good that make us want to live a fantasy of working as a baker and work with cute bakers. Or pretty European women eating such bread and not leaving crumbs and again, I’m not bitter. But it does not stick to that aesthetic. For every local patisserie it also shows sanitized offices farms, factories, and conventions, all contributing to each other. It shuffles between those environments, crosses borders, and switches between languages too quickly. And of course, the French talk about their bread as if it is the best, so do the Belgians and the Germans. There’s potential here but it ends up being a messy slop.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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