Dog Days (Unrated Director's Cut) (D) (Widescreen) product details page

Dog Days (Unrated Director's Cut) (D) (Widescreen)

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Ulrich Seidl, creator of a disturbing documentary about pet owners, Animal Love, is certain to shock audiences again with his narrative debut, Dog Days. The film is a uniquely unsettling look at suburban life in Austria, making its American counterparts, like Todd Solondz's Happiness and Sam Mendes' American Beauty, seem tame and positively life-affirming by comparison. The confrontational tone of the film is set in the first scene, in which the jealous Mario (Rene Wanko) assaults an unsuspecting stranger in the men's room of a disco, while he's using the urinal, for allegedly wanting to have ****** with his long-suffering girlfriend, Klaudia (Franziska Weiss). Nearly every character in the film, in fact, is suffering, and it's not just the stifling heat wave. The strength of Seidl's film is that it dramatizes how desperate people, like the older teacher (Christine Jirku) with the abusive younger boyfriend (Victor Hennemann), cling to their suffering, even when they appear to have a way to escape it. This is also exemplified by some characters' willingness to continue giving rides to the amusingly demented hitchhiker, Anna (Maria Hofstatter), despite the fact that she never seems to be going anywhere in particular, and their encounters usually end with Anna annoying them by reciting inane top ten lists and singing commercial jingles, insulting them, and getting thrown out of their cars. Seidl weaves a large number of plot lines together with remarkable grace. The film is often difficult to watch, but it's frequently fascinating and darkly funny. In a sense, Seidl's uncomfortable film -- the heat from the sweaty bodies onscreen practically radiates into the theater -- assaults the audience, but with enough insight and visual finesse that it's worth enduring. Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide