Marcello, the dog groomer, in Matteo Garrone’s Dogman is easy to empathize with ― an endearing neighbor, a devout dog lover, and a doting dad to his daughter from a failed marriage.
Working in a long-forgotten grim Roman suburb, where it is always raining or about to rain, Marcello ain’t without flaws – he does some low-level drug dealing on the sidelines, for reasons as naive as making extra money, to go scuba diving with his daughter.
But the gentle dog groomer isn’t suited for the world of crime. Dragged to assist in robberies by the town bully, Simone, he climbs back into one burgled house to rescue a chihuahua who was left to die in a freezer.
Also, can someone who shares a plate of pasta with a dog be evil?
Toyed at the hands of the violent former boxer and present-day bully, Marcello even serves the prison sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. All in for some misplaced notion of loyalty.
Ostracized from the community, he called his own, with no place to turn to and subjugated again, he retorts and shows some teeth to his tormentor, Simone. The script sets up the final stage beautifully, drawing parallels to puppy-like devotion of Marcello against mad dog act of Simone.
A riveting portrait of the criminal underbelly of a Roman suburb, Dogman explores how crime creeps up in the life of a timid man who wants to stay out of trouble.
Dogman lapped up two awards at Cannes ― the Best Actor for Marcello Fonteore, and Palm Dog Award (the unofficial Cannes prize for best animal performance) for the dog cast.
Complement your watch list with ‘White Dog’, perhaps one of the most profound cinematic experiences against racism. Also watch Kornél Mundruczó’s White God that delves deeper into the societal mix and speaks for ethnic groups, the minorities, and the settlers.