The documentary “Poached” explores the seemingly very British pastime of collecting eggs — not the Easter or the Fabergé varieties, but ones snatched directly from the nests of rare birds, some of which make only one breeding attempt each year.
Though outlawed since 1954, the phenomenon has apparently gotten so out of hand that the country has dedicated a National Wildlife Crime Unit to catching egg thieves and bringing them to justice.
Director Timothy Wheeler manages to wrangle for interviews some active and reformed egg offenders along with authorities, conservationists and volunteers. Some are quite the characters, indeed. The egg snatchers seem like such mischievous and anarchistic daredevils that the film at times recalls “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” the documentary on renegade graffiti artist Banksy.
Despite the whiffs of advocacy in the opening and end titles, Wheeler resists taking a side, for the most part. While failing to provide a complete picture of the egg snatchers’ lives (How do they support themselves financially?), the filmmaker does shed light on their neuroses. Some seem like socially inept figures who desperately need to get a life.
“Poached.” MPAA rating: PG-13 for thematic material, brief strong language. Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes. Playing: Laemmle’s Claremont 5.