Cinema Review – Red Dog
This weeks in UK we have the cinema release of Red Dog, here is Teri’s review
Red Dog has taken Australia by storm – by the critics and the punters, if the papers are to be believed. Whether it will do as well here remains to be seen, but it could be a tricky one. It’s kind of a nod to the Australian family films of yesteryear – part Dot and the Kangaroo, part Skippy; it’s an old fashioned and innocent yarn, sweet and fairly harmless.
Set in the Australian outback in the 1970s, Red Dog is based on the Louis de Bernieres book of the same name that tells the true story of a stray dog and how he becomes an integral part of a small Australian mining community. He doesn’t have an owner, until he meets a master in American bus driver John (Josh Lucas); the story interweaves between Red Dog’s new found friendship as well as John’s own lovestory that is forged when the community’s new secretary Nancy (Rachael Taylor) moves to town. This is all told through Publican Jack Collins (Noah Taylor), some years later when a young truck driver arrives at his bar and finds the dog in question hurt and very close to being put down by the local vet.
And this is where the line between believable and syrupy contrivance blurs – the kind of contrivance that has you shifting rigidly in your seat and fighting the wince when all you want to do is smile,because the film is so lighthearted and, seemingly, intended to be nothing but that. It’s all a bit ham-fisted, a bit kitschy, at times quite un-PC and corny – too clumsy to really work as brilliantly as it wants to. Koko, the dog actor extraordinaire, is absolutely beautiful – there’s no denying that, but sadly his performance is stifled by a poor script and eyerolling cliches. Insofar as it working as a kids film, the younger ones will be amused by Red Dog’s cheeky antics, but its disconnect lies when the dog’s story isn’t all that fully explained, and if you’re not already familiar with the source material, it might not be immediately relatable.
Something I will praise Red Dog for though is its fun use of cinematography – there’s a particularly brilliant quick fire scene where Italian miner Vanno (Arthur Angel) is fantasizing about his future life with Red Dog’s very attractive veterinary nurse – the use of colour too is quite clever, and evokes a retro feel with a modern, instagram-esque edge. The use of music also is commendable – any soundtrack featuring Harry Nilsson, Suzi Qutaro and Pete Townshend is bound to grab my attention though, to be fair.
In all, Red Dog is a saccharine film with a traditional feel and traditional values – but undeniably crafted with love.
RED DOG IS RELEASED NATIONALLY IN THE UK ON 24TH FEBRUARY 2012
About The Author – Teri Williams
Teri is a former film student from Edinburgh and currently works in book publishing in London. She is a fan of bad taste films, horror, fantasy, science fiction and vintage teen comedy and has been described by her friends as a “proper nerd” and a human imdb. She can be found speaking nonsense under the twitter name @msenidcoleslaw and scribbling similar nonsense on her blog Enid’s Revenge
Have you seen this film? Does it appeal to you? Comment below…