Canine Militia – White God (2014)

Animal lovers beware.  So when a young girl (Zsófia Psotta) goes to live with her dad (Sándor Zsótér), she takes her dog with her.  Her father sets the dog loose on the streets after a fight, and then she goes about trying to find it.  But this isn’t a story that is just told from the girl’s point of view, the dog is a lead character, and the horrors that it experiences lead to something unlike anything you have ever seen before.  This is a high quality film, but I will start this off by letting you know: if you have problems with animal cruelty, this is not the movie for you.  Everybody has their buttons as far as what they don’t like seeing, and this is a big one for a number of people that I know.  I wouldn’t necessarily label it as a button for me, but I certainly loathe seeing it in real life and on film, which makes this a really good movie that I’m not likely to get a lot of replay value out of.

1When good dogs do bad things.

There’s a lot going on with White God, and while you think you may be getting one thing, it ends up turning into something else all together.  While you do get invested in the relationship between this girl and her dog as it is the crux of the film, you also get a lot out of the stilted relationship between her and her father.  You think you may be getting this simple sad story about this girl having to learn that it is time to grow up, but you can’t forget: this dog is actually the lead character, and it’s his story.  Every time a new person comes near this animal, you get nervous instantly because you have no idea what this newcomer’s intentions could be, but you’re certain that they are sordid.  You want this dog to be able to hold on to its humanity (so to speak) and I honestly can’t remember the last time I cared this much about the outcome for an onscreen pet.  If there were awards given for dogs, this one would win an Oscar, and you buy not only the interactions between him and humans, but also that he can fully and effectively communicate with other dogs.

2There is something about seeing the sheer number of dogs simultaneously in motion that is impressive, much like the bride scene in Seven Chances.

It goes without saying that this is hard to watch, and there isn’t a spot of sugar coating to be found anywhere on this.  I don’t know the ethics behind making this (this is Hungarian, so I don’t know if the animal laws are enforced differently), but I can only hope that no animals were harmed during the making of this film.  If you can stomach the painful animal cruelty, there is a great movie to be found here, and when you get to the finale, that is where White God shines the brightest by doing something highly unique.  With great music and quality performances, it’s a great movie that I find it difficult to recommend.

White God (2014) ****1/2

– Critic for Hire

Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2015?  See for yourself here.

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