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Movie Suggestion XLIV: Fehér isten

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Movie Suggestion XLIV: Fehér isten

 

Country: Hungary | Germany | Sweden

 

Genre: Drama

 

Directed by: Kornél Mundruczó

 

Starring: Zsófia Psotta, Sándor Zsótér, Lili Horváth

 

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Synopsis: “When young Lili is forced to give up her beloved dog Hagen, because it’s mixed-breed heritage is deemed ‘unfit’ by The State, she and the dog begin a dangerous journey back towards each other. At the same time, all the unwanted, unloved and so-called ‘unfit’ dogs rise up under a new leader, Hagen, the one-time housepet who has learned all too well from his ‘Masters’ in his journey through the streets and animal control centers how to bite the hands that beats him.” (rottentomatoes.com)

 

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“How does a touching girl-and-her-dog movie turn into a blood-soaked tale of vengeance and revolt?

 

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Brilliantly, that’s how, in Kornél Mundruczó’s White God.

 

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Hungary’s official entry in the 2015 Academy Awards foreign-language competition, and winner of the Un Certain Regard prize at last year’s Cannes festival, White God offers a dark – very dark – take on the way humans exert authority, and superiority, over our fellow creatures.  (philly.com)

 

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“The danger is meant to be pervasive enough to tempt you to bow down once the film reaches a moment of submissive divinity in its final scenes. But the allegory is something of a nonstarter: Cruelty of every kind exists, but what beyond that does Mundruczó, who’s 40, have to say? His previous movie, Tender Son: The Frankenstein Project, a handsomer, equally politically overburdened parable of suffering, also got better the less like a parable and the more like an action-thriller it became.

 

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The movie’s best stuff involves streets flooded with dogs. Many of these dogs have a fascinating screen presence. The intimacy of their close-ups is something. Watching some of them makes you understand why Lassie and Benji were so popular: Their sentience seems to explain the heretofore inexplicable. Here, that sentience and the fascist critique to which it’s affixed just aren’t enough. The obviousness of the message — follow the right leader — would be more tolerable in a less badly acted, less shoddy-looking film.” (grantland.com)

 

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“The film also works as a conscious metaphor about any group marginalized and ill-used by a mainstream, and “White God” has been variously interpreted as an allegory about Hungary in the European Union and Muslim guest workers in Hungary. The parallel is so broad as to be nearly useless beyond serving as a doggie version of the Golden Rule: Do unto mutts as you would have them do unto you. Or they will.

 

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More problematically, “White God” shifts genres so often — from caustic social realism to horror film to family melodrama to Hitchcockian apocalypse — that it threatens to lose its grip toward the end of an overlong two-hour running time. What saves the movie are those sequences of massed animals running riot through Budapest, overwhelming squadrons of police sharpshooters, and taking over a student performance of Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.” Hardly subtle, yet the scene yields one shot — of dogs glaring down from the box seats of a fancy concert hall — that’s nearly worthy of Buñuel.

 

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“White God” gives every dog its day and makes you fear for the day after.”

 

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All images belong to their rightful owners.

June 7, 2015

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