Online Magazine Edited by The national union of filmmakers

Film Critics Association 2015 Award for Best Film Journalism



There is no room for new comers: “Dogs” –film review


     The ear hidden in the grass in Lynch`s Blue Velvet seems a lovely thing, compared to the foot of the dead body that can`t be found anywhere from Dogs. The humour of the mincing machine inCoen brothers` Fargo – a perverse innocent copy of the one we have in our kitchens – is however too ferocious to be appealing. I brought these two references up, some of them being taken from the filmography of some important filmmakers that the first commentators took notice of in Bogdan Mirică`s feature debut, because it is not the likeness that I find significant, but what is different from them.
The film can easily be 
considered a thriller, a genre film, with a few western touches, without following the exact recipe, leaving a free space where the young author can play. Now I go back to the object of the frightfulness, of the suspicion, the above mentioned foot of a cut off leg. The scene with Gheorghe Visu studying it carefully, for a few seconds – has everything that it needs to enter the mythology of horror. The man looks at the limb the way the entomologist studies an insect under the microscope; furthermore, he puts it on a plate, delicately touches the tattered edges of the limb with a fork, he rotates it as if he had something to do with a nail as well. No muscle moves on the wrink
led face of the wonderful actor. Even the curiosity is missing of this apparently useless ice cold show which in other circumstances would have turned our stomachs. In this case, I find it a mental connection to the slow-paced rhythm, to the silence burdened with fear that the camera advanced with at the beginning of the film, among the rotten plants, to the waterhole of a pond ready to send to the surface the mentioned human limb (the photographer is Andrei Butică). And that stands for a grotesque, unsettling “welcome”, read in the key of a warning, of the imminent elimination of any trespasser.
The land that the protagonist will set foot on, needs no unwanted guests. The “encasing” thriller mixed with western that BogdanMiricăpours his film into, includes in its composition, the paradoxical
feeling of the huge space that rejects, not welcomes. Paraphrasing anoften mentioned Cohenbrothers title, No Country for Old Men, we can say that there is no place for the new comers in this back-country, near an eastern border. Though social reasons come up – the existence of a local mafia, which is small but tough in its primitivism – the author doesn’t dig in that direction, doesn`t investigate. Some foreign critics - who in their candid conviction are always chasing something and “know” for sure that the filmmaker intends to say more - believe that they know how things are in the profound Romania (that foot would be “a symbol of the post communist Romania); and they knocked off the subtle movements of the film which hides more than it shows, before finding out the characters and see who are the good ones, who are the bad ones, or if there is such a possible separation, a fog of the anxiety befalls upon the endless surface of land – inherited from a grandfather – that Roman (Dragoș Bucur), the young man who came from the city intends to take over.
The man came alone to a vaguely familiar place, his grandfather`s house is isolated, far from the rest of the village; he meets a strange man (Constantin Cojocaru), a sort of a guardian whose words get in a tangle and a dog weirdly named Police which doesn`t seem to want to 
become friends with him. At night, the lights of some strange cars carve out the dark. The new owner will have to keep vigil, keeping his gun close. The daytime won`t bring any more protection or comfort. Soon, a first unwanted guest – who was supposed to help with the selling of the land – will disappear.
From the people he meets he
 gets to hear allusions to some not that clean habits of the former owner of the land. The few people he meets are obviously marked,
 in a way or another, by living in this God`s forgotten place. The old cop Hogaș (Gheorghe Visu) looks like those old, poor, lone wolf sheriffs from the crepuscular westerns. Looking at our actor`s fragile silhouette, I could almost see Charlton Heston mending his socks, by the light of a gas lamp in an old film.
In a good western tradition, he talks from the house threshold, a local substitute for the terrace with 
columns from the classic films. It is a great part for Visu, whose hero seems to have obsessions, not ambitions. He walks around carrying a small box with that cursed limb, trying to solve the mystery. We can feel that he is the keeper of some secrets of those around him, more than he allows to be understood. His conversation with Samir (Vlad Ivanov) re
veals the existence of a shrewd villain who doesn`t want to lose the leadership of an interlope gang. We identify a true evil spirit of the place. The policeman asks him: “Are you afraid of someone?” and his answer is “I`m afraid of God. But He is afraid of me too.”
This is more than being insolent. It`s the blasphemy of a ruthless man. The intuition of the author worked in a perfect way, insisting upon it would have been too much. For instance, it was enough to see the smiling brute (played by VladIvanov) asking for a glass of water, with a chilling relaxation and we could understand that the death sentence of the visited man was already signed. I wouldn`t share the director`s somewhat Dostoievskian perspective
upon the relationships between the characters: “The heroes of the film Dogs have a certain feature for me.They know that their profound nature is corrupt and that they cannot do anything to fix it. Sometimes it happens in life to be conscious of taking a wrong path and still not to do anything to fix it. It`s the case of my protagonists…it`s no use that they rationally know their contradictions, it just doesn`t help. They choose to keep on being what they are deep, deep down. The film is the story of three men, who are very much alike, despite the appearances. All they do is confront each other. The true battle is the one they have with their own self.” 
It is one perspective, one of them, which is incorporated in the somewhat mysterious birth of any authentic film. As far as a moral is not excluded, the one that truly imposes itself in 
Dogs is the one carried by the policeman, whose illness which seems to be merciless, in other words, the proximity of death, makes the urgency of his justice deed seem right: shooting Samir, casing away the Evil at any cost. It is only now, when the target has been  reached, that Hogaș can leave, swallowed by the fields and that the huge space which at the beginning of the film greeted the new comer, seems a bit less hostile. The author`s inspiration and film instinct were stronger than the mental drawing of some typologies.

 
 
(7.10.2016)

Tags: bogdan mirica, caini film, cronica de film caini, dogs film, gheorghe visu

Comments: