director Kornél Mundruczó
The Hungarian film, White God, seemed intriguing to me. Something metaphorical with these images of the empty streets of Budapest swarmed by a gang of mongrels. It won Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 2014.
It does have some good dog acting.
The film follows Lili, a young teen who is shuffled off on her father when her mother has to leave for a project in Australia. Lili’s relationship with her father is strained enough, but she also has a large mutt named Hagen on her hands, who she refuses to abandon or take to the pound despite her father’s dislike for it and his building’s unfriendly pet rules. Hagen eventually ends up on the streets, bonding with the other mongrels, in and out of doggie jail, eventually roaming in a pack in a somewhat post-apocalyptic vision.
Though perhaps not explicit, it’s hard not to read the mixed-breed dogs and their low estimation in the eyes of adults and authorities as some slant on immigration. Lili identifies with Hagen because she, too, feels an outsider status and has no ingrained animosity toward him. But ultimately, what is the story or the moral of the film? Beware your bad attitude toward immigrants because they’ll run roughshod over the streets? And only a girl with a trumpet can soothe the savage beasts?
Frankly, the film was quite disappointing. And not just in my half-assed reading of the film. It’s kind of an interesting idea and there are some nice shots of a city overrun by a pack of dogs, and yes, the dog acting is very good.
But it’s not a great film. Maybe not even a good one.