Review: The Dog Snatch
- Fulvio Risuleo’s atypical second work is a grotesque tragi-comedy that sets itself apart in the Italian film landscape
The Dog Snatch [+see also:
film profile] by Fulvio Risuleo is a singular and atypical film when compared to the usual offerings of independent, Italian cinema. It’s not your typical comedic film; it’s not a romantic film, and it’s not one for families either. It’s bears a closer resemblance to comedies with dark, grotesque undertones, a form we’d usually associate with French, Belgian or Balkan cinema. From the very outset, in 2014, Risuleo hinted at his leanings towards the paradoxical with his debut short film Lievito madre, which won a Cinéfondation award in Cannes, followed by Varicella, and then his first feature film Look Up [+see also:
film profile], which was co-produced with France and which claimed the Youth Jury Prize at Annecy last year.
The Dog Snatch recounts the tragi-comic adventure embarked upon by Orazio, a young-but-not-so-young, unemployed Roman with a good heart. He’s an introvert and a huge fan of heavy metal music, and he’s looking for a job after the umpteenth disappointment in his love and his working life. He accepts the offer of a rather ambiguous couple - and an even more ambiguous pet-shop owner - to track down (or rather, to kidnap) small but very expensive French bulldogs which they can then mate with other highly valuable, little French bulldogs. Orazio is played by the wonderful and versatile Edoardo Pesce, who, after having squared up to Matteo Garrone’s tremendous titular Dogman [+see also:
interview: Matteo Garrone
film profile] in the role of the violent Borgotoro-dwelling Simone, now finds himself on the trail of diminutive dogs measuring a grand total of 30cm at the withers. Having cleansed himself of the heavy metal look – angry skull-covered t-shirts and long hair dangling over his eyes - Orazio transforms himself into the improbable vet, Doctor Mopsi. He notices a young gay couple in the public gardens, Rana and Marti (Silvia D’Amico, The Guest [+see also:
interview: Duccio Chiarini
film profile], and Daphne Scoccia, Fiore [+see also:
Q&A: Claudio Giovannesi
film profile]), who are cat-sitting for a rich, elderly lady (Anna Bonaiuto in a small cameo role). The dog is obviously a French bulldog, but Orazio/Doctor Mopsi is too awkward too pull it all off and his attempt to kidnap the dog morphs into a bizarre chase (him in his 1990s Fiat Croma, the girls in their nippy electric number, rented through a car share scheme – a company which must have made a substantial contribution to the film’s budget, given the massive product placement it enjoys). The first part of the film is seen through the eyes of Rana and Marti, while, in the second part, there’s a change in viewpoint and the audience begins to see things from Orazio’s perspective (yes, just like in Kurosawa and Tarantino’s works).
The screenplay was penned by the director himself and, without a doubt, the moments placing Edoardo Pesce centre stage are those which work the best. The gags entrusted to the two young actresses, on the other hand, often feel too childlike in their delivery, and the acting – which, at times, seems to have involved the actors being intentionally left to improvise - doesn’t always hit the right notes. That said, the film should be lauded for its brave attempt to step outside of the box, not to mention its mise en scène and editorial approach (Ilenia Zincone) which really bring the story to life.
The Dog Snatch is produced by TIM Vision and Revok in collaboration with Sky, and with the support of the Lazio Regional Film and Audiovisual Fund, while Vision is releasing it in Italian cinemas on 29 September.
(Translated from Italian)
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