Top Dog In 2015
Of all the movies I saw in 2015, one stayed with me more than any other. ‘White God’ is only the second Hungarian film I can recall seeing (the other was the brilliant ‘Kontroll’). It’s by Kornell Mundruczo and is an utterly unclassifiable one-off experience. Not only can I not explain how he got so many layers of meaning into one thriller, I can’t even see how on earth it was made.
The press release says ‘White God’ is a parable about the dispossessed. So, a Hungarian political fable – we’re off to a great start there, aren’t we? Two things are worth pointing out here.
- You barely pick up on the ‘parable’ aspect until after it’s over.
- It’s shot with the pacing of a high-octane Hollywood thriller.
Thirteen year-old Lili has to live with her estranged father, who’s a meat inspector in Budapest, for a few months while her mother’s overseas, but there’s a snag; she can’t keep her dog Hagan in the flat because a new law has been passed banning mixed-breed dogs, so her father gets rid of it.
Lili gets kicked out of music practice after bringing the dog to school, and loses Hagan, Setting off to find him brings its dangers. Soon they’re both alone and at risk in the predatory big city, as the film follows their twin journeys through loss of innocence and the cruelty of human conditioning before reaching a level of understanding for them both.
However, it’s the last 40 minutes of the film that provide some of the most jaw-dropping scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie, turning surreal and apocalyptic – especially with the hindsight that there was no camera trickery involved in the making of ‘White God’. The performances are superb, the soundtrack and cinematography are equally excellent.
The timely film won the Cannes Film Festival’s coveted ‘Un Certain Regard’ prize for 2015, and apparently opened in the UK, but I (and probably everyone else) missed it. A couple of scenes will have you watching through your fingers, but check it out – you won’t be sorry. Try to avoid too much exposure to reviews and trailers before you watch it.