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Film Review: “Dogman” (2018) ★★★★


It’s true that what we people do to each other even animals do not do. The aggression an animal shows against another animal is only when it is hungry or needs to defend itself. People, on the other hand, do not have the same story to share. Some of them just want to be cruel because they do not know how else to be, or think the display of power is a showcase of endless superiority which can be achieved only through violence.

“Dogman” follows a dog groomer named Marcello (Marcelo Fonte), who lives in a poor suburb, sells cocaine on the side to make ends meet. Other than that, he likes calamity, enjoys spending his time with his daughter, and overall, tries to stay out of trouble. It seems there is no need to change anything in his life until the moment when a former boxer, Simoncino (Edoardo Pesce) begins terrorizing an area, forcing his powerful attack on its citizens by taking their money away or breaking apart their property when they refuse to cooperate with him. As everyone tries to figure out how to deal with him, Marcello seems to have gotten an excellent idea that eventually will go wrong.

Just looking at how our protagonist Dogman is so gentle, caring, and loving towards the harmless animals, it’s puzzling to see his other side where he’s reckless, ruthless, and extremely violent towards his own kind. Simoncino can trigger any other feelings other than disgust. He is someone who we would never want to walk with on the same street. Now imagine what happens to all the characters you meet in “Dogman” and the pain and discomfort they feel after each time when they encounter him. As for Marcello, he himself would never hurt anyone. He does sell drugs to Simoncino more due to the fear he has. He knows that if he doesn’t obey the stronger man’s will, he will either be beaten up heavily or get killed.

The shape of two men is also significant – Simoncino is massive and has a scary look, while Marcello, to compare with our antagonist, is much shorter and weaker in terms of muscles. But those two men will have a showdown of their lifetime which only one can win. Whoever it is, you can count on that at some point, when the camera points at the dog, I am sure if he could talk he would say, “I would never do that to any other dog what people do to each other.” And that is the only thought which might come to your mind as you watch the most significant part of the film that will define the future of a poor suburb that in reality, is okay with anything they get as long as they manage to make through from one day to another.

Directed by Matteo Garrone, “Dogman” is one of the most unusual films that explores primal fear and puts the man into a difficult position to face who they really are. It is, of course, about two men who will have to decide how long the nightmare can continue – while one thinks he has enough power to do anything he wants and get away with any crime, the other man, no matter how small he is, must stand against an unequal foe to enter the fight only courage can defeat. In the end, “Dogman” is not just about courage or how much more you can take from unjust life. It’s about certain people that are fine with what they have, and instead of taking actions, they let the fear take over them as long as the bullying is consistent with not crossing the limit until the time when they can get up and say – enough is enough.

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