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Dogman (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 2, 2020


DOGMAN (2018)

Starring Marcello Fonte, Edoardo Pesce, Alida Baldari Calabria, Nunzia Schiano, Adamo Dionisi, Francesco Acquaroli and Gianluca Gobbi.

Screenplay by Ugo Chiti, Massimo Gaudiso, Matteo Garrone.

Directed by Matteo Garrone.

Distributed by Magnolia Pictures. 102 minutes. Not Rated.

Quick impression. Dogman is not for the weak at heart.

It is suspenseful and painful to watch the hero’s struggle against a monster of an antagonist. That bad guy has zero empathy for the community, the eager-to-please hero, or even himself. I found myself on the edge of my seat and then flabbergasted, watching how low a monster can go and how fraught a man can get when pushed past his limit.

Marcello is a small Italian town’s dog groomer. A trusted member of the ailing, dilapidated community, he dines with the local merchants’ association and lives for his young daughter, Alida. Although split from Alida’s mom, he sees her regularly. She helps with the dog grooming and the two plan travels together.

Marcello is slight and awkward, with Buster Keaton-sized round eyes and Mr. Bean’s demeanor… if Mr. Bean dabbled in drug dealing and occasional use. He seems a man more suited for a comedy. Instead, he is shaped into the kind-hearted, weak man who is constantly overpowered and manipulated by the town bully and psychopath, Simone.

It is difficult to understand Marcello’s connection to – and support of – Simone. Simone, while awful, is a well-written monster, with complete disregard for Marcello. Simone involves Marcello in crimes, sometimes against his will, and then discounts – even mocks – Marcello’s assistance.

Yet, Marcello continues to standby Simone, in spite of multiple opportunities to be free of this toxic relationship. Ignorance cannot be blamed for Marcello’s ongoing behavior.

The whole community is aware that reporting Simone to authorities will only take him out of the picture for a few months, and lead to his return with vengeance. Marcello is at the table when the men mention that only death will stop the evil Simone.

So, what keeps him at Simone’s side?

It can’t be only the promise of money – while it seems to be an inciting incident of his breaking point, the money feels like more of an excuse. Dogman is an examination of character and the magnetic attraction of the weak to the strong.

Marcello is a character written as an underdog, and everyone roots for an underdog. Not in Dogman. Every positive trait is balanced with an unlikeable trait. Every positive decision seems counterbalanced with a negative decision. The story unfolds slowly and painfully until its dramatic ending.

Dogman is a film that I am glad that I watched, will likely never forget, and will never choose to watch again.

Bonnie Paul

Copyright ©2019 All rights reserved. Posted: May 3, 2019.

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