Take a Drink: whenever Lili is disrespectful
Take a Drink: “Tannhauser”
Take a Drink: for animal cruelty
Take a Drink: whenever Hagen acts like he’s people
Take a Drink: for the mention or appearance of Animal Control
Take a Drink: for human deaths
Do a Shot: for The Rise of the Planet of the Dogs
By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
Dogs have it tough. Have you ever seen Lady and the Tramp? That shit gets real.
He’s going more bye-bye than he can imagine.
White Dog is what happens when Tramp has no corresponding Lady, and he also is mistreated by humans to the point that he leads a bloody revolution of street dogs against them. As Christian Harding very ably described how it looks on our happenin’ Facebook writer’s group, it very much is Rise of the Planet of the Apes with stray dogs.
Now, there’s also some less exciting stuff with a teenage girl who owned Hagen, aka Dog Caesar, aka our furry protagonist, and her asshole parents, music teacher, and cute older boy she likes. The meat of the movie, though, is Hagen’s journey through pretty much all of the awful things that can happen to a formerly trusting dog abandoned on the streets.
Director Kornel Mundruczo does an excellent job conveying a dog’s POV, and has a lot of fun applying Hollywood tropes to his dog protagonists. There’s not a little bit of Jason Bourne in the pulse-pounding, handheld dog catcher chase scenes, and horror touches are used to great comic effect later in the film.
If you’re scared of dogs, you’ll likely consider this a full-on horror film.
I also appreciated the strong throughline of music in the film. The arresting opening, a call forward if you will, works both due to its spectacular visuals (there are several mind-boggling dog-wrangling shots in the film, with Budapest the perfect backdrop) and the pulse-raising music. Music also has thematic significance (the girl’s in an orchestra, and club scenes are shorthand for growing up too fast). Still, though… this flick is all about the dogs.
The title, White God, is a clear reference to Samuel Fuller’s nasty, sharp as a whip race relations parable White Dog. It’s a stupid title. Any pretensions White God might have towards similar social allegory is not followed through on at all, and the dog’s not even white (the little girl is…?)
White God is unafraid of pulling emotional strings, but doesn’t hide that well. Not that what happens to Hagen can’t happen, but he’s (and the girl) got an artificially hard knock life. She’s basically got the shittiest parents ever. What kind of parent buys their kid a dog, doesn’t may the mutt tax (not an actual Hungarian law, but a proposed one at one point) on it, then foists it on another parent for several months without warning, pushing that parent to abandon it under an overpass with their kid right there? Also, why does everyone in the country apparently hate dogs?
In Hungary, they say “Man’s best enemy”
The third act goes full on exploitation. Basically, the film simultaneously gets worse and more entertaining. This is that beer-drinking sweet spot, folks. The finale is the apex of dumb and awesome.
White God‘s not as smart as it’d like you to think it is, but that doesn’t prevent it from being a damn fun genre flick with some intriguing wrinkles.