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Film Review: “The Dancing Dogs of Dombrova” (2018) ★★★


How much do we know about the feelings being processed by a gravely ill person? The person who is well aware that the time has arrived to say their final goodbye? Just to process that exact moment is enough to go through a chilling cycle of life that is about to end. So the most important question is, what level of comfort we can provide so that the loved one we’re seeing for the very last time can rest assured that the process of resting in peace will be fulfilling?

Sarah (Katherine Fogler) and Aaron Cotler (Douglas Nyback) are estranged siblings that have to travel to Poland at the request of their dying grandmother to retrieve the only thing she would love to have laid to rest – her dancing dog named Pyotr or Peter. Their journey to Poland will not be easy though. It will be filled with the search of a place that had been renamed multiple times, strange people that will keep misleading them, and even humble and genuinely kind people that are there just to help. But there is the biggest test the two must pass – to discuss and resolve the issue that has separated the two.

As soon as the siblings arrive in Poland, in a rural village, the tension between Sarah and Aaron begins. Karolina (Silva Helena Schmidt), a polish host, is a nice woman who, for a less price allows her guests to stay. But the most entertaining part begins when they meet the driver (Doroftei Anis), whose name we will never learn, and she will have only one line to deliver, but her actions were enough to shape her personality for us in the most possible way. She does not seem one of those drivers who’s eager to rip off inexperienced tourists, but offers her help to drive them through one place to another, until the moment when Sarah and Aaron realize – only when they unite can they achieve a common goal, and that everything unpleasant which happened in the past may not be easily forgotten but can be left aside for a while in the name of a great cause.

I must say, it was a pleasant surprise seeing how Zack Bernbaum’s feature film takes a turn. Sometimes, it’s a funny piece to watch, then it turns into drama, and somewhere, believe or not, even action. I should specifically mention here Mrs. Sokolofsky (Dano Talos) with whom nobody would like to mess around when she holds a gun in her hand. But overall, it is a complete joy to watch how the siblings are trying to reconnect during the less expected moments of their life.

In the end, a story by Zack Bernbaum written by Michael Whatling, “The Dancing Dogs of Dombrova” is more than just a film about fulfilling the wish of a dying person. Of course, you may say what can be important than that, but if to think deeper, it’s about memories, about days lived when we were young and the one thing that delivered us the most unforgettable happiness we could never dare to forget. In this case, it’s the dog, Peter, who during harsh times of war, was able to deliver laughter to Sarah and Aaron’s grandmother when nothing else was capable of doing so. Indeed, if there’s something we must take away from it, it’s to not ignore the past. Let’s continue to listen to our elderly ones. And if they ask us to do something crazy, like traveling from one continent to another to bring something, why won’t we simply do it? At the end of the day, we’re happy when they are happier, isn’t it?

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