Tom’s Rating: 7/10 – Lucy’s Rating: 7/10.
Dogman is the sort of film I really enjoy. The arthouse picture that tells its story as much through cinematography as it does through dialogue. Long vistas and cluttered shots carefully arranged like still-life paintings. Matteo Garone’s story of a trapped and coerced underdog, forced into precarious and often violent situations by the local strongman, was a great film - but the narrative felt like it was missing something.
I loved the cinematography. Marcello’s dog parlour, with its dark corners and old fixtures, was a convincing stage for the film’s plot. The washed out paint and industrial quality of the grooming implements gave the parlour an uneasy menace despite the fluffy dogs that inhabit it. This setting was really clever and, together with the sparse presentation of Magliana more generally, was a fundamental reason I enjoyed this film.
Marcello, played by Marcello Fonte, was also a convincing character. At times cunning, and far from an innocent, he almost always comes undone by the brute power of Simone. His interactions with the films' many dogs (only ever an adjunct to the main narrative) were endearing, and jarred against his criminal tendencies effectively.
The film lacked, however, any sort of punch. The ending was inevitable, and perhaps intentionally so, but I was ultimately left feeling like it needed something more. Even in the final scenes, the visual metaphor of Marcello heaving Simone on his shoulders was entirely predictable.
The film will probably grow on me with time, and the cinematography was right on the money. But overall I was not riveted by the film’s narrative in a way that I have been with other recent arthouse films.