28 September 2018.
DOGMAN **** (vo Italian)
Coming with awards from various festivals and a highly deserved Best Actor award at the Cannes film fest, this powerful yet touching and tragic tale is from Italy’s great director, Matteo Garrone (“Gomorrah”, “Tale of Tales”).
It’s a grim story, based on real events, of a little man (the superb Marcello Fonte) with a tender heart who loves the dogs he grooms, his little daughter and his dismal town and buddies.
But his connection and strange devotion to the terrible brute of the town make up his sad world and lead to the decisions that define his fate.
Starting off on a light tone, the film slowly descends into terrible depths, somewhat reminiscent in feel to Fellini’s “La Strada”. This is like a Greek tragedy, locked in time and with no point of return. Garrone makes the grimness both heavy and beautiful, as Fonte portrays this gentle man as irreversibly doomed. It is quite unforgettable.
A SIMPLE FAVOR (L’Ombre d’Emily) **1/2
Now here is a film that starts off with bright promise, with two completely different women in an upscale American suburb who end up becoming best friends, or so it seems. The chemistry between the earnest Anna Kendrick as a devoted single mother and the stunning Blake Lively as a free-wheeling femme-fatale is exhilarating, and we feel we’re on a fine ride.
They each have a little boy, who become best buddies in school. Kendrick’s character often ends up taking care of the two kids while Lively’s character Emily goes off to her glamorous job in the city. Her husband is a dashing writer. And then one day Emily simply disappears.
This is where the film turns into a thriller that gets bogged down with too many subplots and goes off on multiple tangents. Pity, for the two women were electrifying in the first half and would not have needed any exaggerations in the storyline. But that’s what happens when a Hollywood flick gets over-ambitious, trying too hard to become a mystery blockbuster.
It’s nevertheless worth your while just for the beauty of Blake Lively and the tantalizing contrast between the two women.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.