My Dog Killer: Shame and angst fuel unnecessary revenge
by Martin Kudláč
- My Dog Killer continues in the wake of bleak Slovak social dramas vividly presenting not only individual guilt but also a collective one.
My Dog Killer [+see also:
film profile], a sophomore feature by young director Mira Fornay, marks another bleak drama in Slovak cinema. The stylistically diverse social drama on expulsion from the home country and struggle to survive abroad in Made in Ash [+see also:
interview: Iveta Grófóva
interview: Jiří Konečný
film profile], the breakdown of family values and ties in Fine, Thanks [+see also:
film profile] and the coming-of-age drama combining elements from both previous films, The Miracle [+see also:
film profile], all form a rather sombre wave of domestic production. My Dog Killer falls into this gloomy territory and stems from the environment of a dysfunctional family, a shared premise of abovementioned films mirroring the key issue of all wrongdoings.
The film spans over the course of one almost ordinary day in the life of Marek, a young skinhead and his pet dog, the eponymous Killer. After a quarrel with his alcoholic father, Marek is sent to get papers singed by his estranged mother in order to resolve property issues. His mother left him and his father for a Gypsy lover, an event that emotionally stigmatised Marek and eventually drove him to join the ranks of the right wing extremist group. The situation escalates after meeting his younger half-brother, a fact that jeopardizes Marek´s credibility as an authentic skinhead.
My Dog Killer balances on the verge of psychological and social realism. The screen is dominated by Marek, there is scarcely a scene without him. He is the main subject of scrutiny, a young person yearning for a mother figure yet living without her. As his father does not really serve his role, he finds one in the leader of a local gang of skinheads. The angst and shame start to boil resulting into tragedy, underpinned by a brilliant anticlimactic finale accurately defining the main character’s attitude. The social issues mostly addressed are racial problems between the white population and ethnic minorities.
The elliptic narration enables to pick on several subjects at once, not only Marek’s personal struggle, but there is also a whole episode about dysfunctional family environment and racism rooted in the country’s history. Unbound storytelling leaves enough space for individual interpretation. This way the director dodged moralisation like in Fliegauf´s civil horror Just the Wind [+see also:
interview: Bence Fliegauf
The bleak story of angst, shame and revenge is sharpened by a monochromatic tint, while an intimate portrait is drawn by a hand-cam eagerly following the main protagonist in the wake of the Dardenne brothers. The added value of My Dog Killer lies in its capacity to encompass so vast a territory of issues with a little story, what also proves Fornay´s abilities not only as a director, but also as a screenwriter.
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