First show: May 08
“The words “release the hounds” take on vibrant new meaning in “White God,” a thrillingly strange update of the “Lassie Come Home” formula in which one lost mutt’s incredible journey to sanctuary evolves into a full-scale man-vs.-beast revolution. The sixth and best feature to date from distinctive Hungarian stylist Kornel Mundruczo, “White God” initially looks to be a sizable departure from his previous work, with its appealingly naive adventure narrative, until the story’s mythic proportions, not to mention its visceral violence, reveal themselves.
Otherwise given no explanation in the film, the title “White God” may be a tip of the hat to Samuel Fuller, whose 1982 race-relations allegory “White Dog” takes a similarly conflicted view of the relationship between man and his supposed best friend. Every human character in Mundruczo’s film stands as either a threat or an obstacle to our canine antihero, Hagen — a sturdy, nut-brown crossbreed with a notably perky tail — with the pure-hearted exception of his 13-year-old mistress, Lili (terrific newcomer Zsofia Psotta). The film’s arresting pre-credits sequence finds Lili cycling through the deserted streets of Budapest, a bounding army of street dogs in her wake — she resembles an alternative Pied Piper of Hamelin, complete with trumpet tucked in her knapsack. Seemingly a dream excerpt, the scene takes on very different implications when contextualized later in the film: The future order of things may hinge on whether the hounds are following or pursuing her.
Not merely a story of interspecies hierarchy, then, “White God” also puts forward a simple but elegant metaphor for racial and class oppression, as the outcast (or even outcaste) masses, sidelined in favor of the elite few, band together to assert their collective strength. Seamlessly shifting to Hagen’s perspective (complete with dynamic dog’s-eye-view camerawork from d.p. Marcell Rev), the film sees the dog allying himself with the numerous other discarded mongrels now roaming the streets, feeding on scraps and dodging the municipal pound workers charged with rounding up the strays. Through a chain of escape attempts, Hagen is eventually caught by a Turkish restaurant owner who attempts to train him as a fight dog — encouraging his attack instincts with a brutal training regimen that reps the most grueling watch for dog lovers since “Amores perros.” (Variety)
Director: KORNÉL MUNDRUCZÓ Screenplay by: KATA WÉBER , KORNÉL MUNDRUCZÓ & VIKTÓRIA PETRÁNYI.
WHITE GOD: Upcoming Showtimes