STARS: Zsofia Psotta, Sandor Zsoter, and a Potpourri of Pooches
DIRECTOR: Kornel Mundruczo
GENRE: Art House/Drama/International
Every dog has its day. But none more satisfyingly than in this quirky little Hungarian film--and I'm tempted to attribute its weirdness to just that--about canines taking over the city and getting revenge on everyone who had been mean to them. I like the premise, but...
There's a lot of really unwatchable stuff near the beginning taking place in a slaughterhouse/ meat packing plant--guts and innards spilling all over the place. Really gross--so only go if you've got a strong stomach.
A young girl, Lili, takes her mixed-breed dog, Hagen, to stay with her divorced dad for a while, only the dad is a real A-hole and hates the dog. She takes Hagen to band practice with her and her music teacher is another A-hole and hates the dog too. In fact all the adults in this movie hate animals. Hagen falls into the hands of some maniacally obsessed dog catchers, and then ends up in a dog fighting ring, and is exploited and abused until finally escaping and taking scores of other mutts with him as they rampage through the city on a dogged mission to settle the score with everyone who abused them. Lili is on her own quest to find and reunite with Hagen, who has now become the Fidel Castro of the canine world, leading his charges through the streets in what is the true genius and creative fascination of the film--the work of the animal trainers who pulled off some quite remarkable scenes.
White God (no explanation for the title, other than God being dog spelled backwards) is a fantasy, horror flick, and morality melodrama rolled into one. The adult characters are all on a par with the Wicked Witch Of The West in their mean-spiritedness, exaggerated to the point of where you'd nearly expect a chorus of boos and hisses to come raining down in the theater, but they serve as a metaphor for the oppressors of the world getting their comeuppance from the downtrodden masses--exploited and treated like dogs until they rise up and revolt.
Tim and I saw White God almost two weeks ago. When we left the theater, he mumbled something about not being sure he'd actually review it. I was secretly relieved as I didn't know what the heck I'd say about this really strange movie. In spite of it's ridiculous premise and one-dimensional script, I found myself rooting for Hagen and his four-legged minions. I also felt ashamed of the cruelties perpetrated on man's best friend by man. Still, as the end credits rolled and reality once again entered my consciousness, I turned to Tim and sighed, "What a waste of time that was!"
I especially balked at the premise that all mongrel dogs (here comes the metaphor!) were automatically seized and impounded. Like the Jews in Germany, the Christians in Iraq, etc. But it certainly gave you a dog's eye view of the world. Cars whizzing past; loud, unfamiliar noises; food as bait. And Hagen, whose real name is Luke—owned by the Arpád Halász' the head dog trainer—was amazingly believable.
Still... My advice? Go see Disney's 1955 animated classic Lady and the Tramp instead.