This is a fantasy about dogs rising up against a society that treats them callously, neglectfully, and abusively. As such, you might expect it to be heroic, even if you’ve already seen Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011). It doesn’t feel heroic, though. It feels like a cross between Milo and Otis and the story of an adolescent girl being special. I’ve had about enough of cinema in which teens and twenties are special; your father was a secret agent and left you a magic ring and we’d like to invite you to join an ancient order; you’re needed to save the world because you’ve got unrevealed superpowers; you’ve got a destiny, etc. OK, she’s not *that* special, but I’m still bored. I confess, I also walked out on about 20-minutes of the film. The scenes of torture were not for me. I don’t experience an emotional dichotomy between art and reality, even if there’s an intellectual one. Art is visceral for me; it’s immersive. And I don’t need it to be graphic in order to understand it – I’m not intellectually or emotionally stunted – I’ve got an imagination, so let me use it. I waited about twenty minutes and returned, and I now wish I’d spent that time in a variety of other ways. The coup de grace was the ending – second time in a day I’ve felt the artists didn’t know how to end what they started. If you’re giving us a fantasy to start with, you’re breaking the contract by insisting on a natural ending. I preferred the aforementioned ape fantasy. Finally, once again, the film reminded me why I’m not a fan of movie theatres. Kids in the audience (twentyish) who I can only assume were high and therefore down a few IQ points, while sure they were up, giggled at all the moments that would require some actual sense of foreign film to realize were not comical. It’s a bit like trying to concentrate on a symphony while someone’s sniggering, or trying to take in a nude portrait with 8th graders giggling. Again, if want a film, and you’re not just up for a laugh, I’d see it alone, or don’t bother. Maybe don’t bother.
The film was a winner at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. I saw it at IFC Center in NYC.