The Wild Dogs Thom Fitzgerald

The Wild Dogs Thom Fitzgerald
"Life has taught me that all men are dogs and all women are bitches," says Fitzgerald, who not only wrote and directed The Wild Dogs, but also plays one of the film's central characters. Provocative (if redundant) words to be sure, and the movie does its best to follow both the spirit and irony of the thought. But while Fitzgerald succeeds in blatantly pushing his audience's buttons with the intimate desires of society's undesirables, his movie merely nips at the heels of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's recent Amores Perros (Love's a Bitch), a stunning, emotionally evocative masterpiece that employs similar mangy dog motifs to highlight very human hurt.

The jowly Fitzgerald plays Geordie, a Canadian pornographer dispatched to Bucharest by his producer in search of some very fresh — possibly underage — meat. Upon his arrival, Geordie is quickly brought into the fold of a local sexaholic diplomat, his bored, lonely wife (Alberta Watson) and their nubile, adventurous daughter (Rachel Blanchard). He's also introduced to the far less polished side of Sin City east when he encounters a gang of Bucharest gypsies and is quickly indoctrinated into the day-to-day struggles and all-night parties of the city streets. The streets also teem with homeless of the canine variety and the film follows Bogdan (Mihai Calota), a local dogcatcher who has been on the job for months and has yet had the heart to catch a single dog.

Despite the constraints of a tiny budget, The Wild Dogs contains some truly startling imagery; it's hard to shoot Bucharest and not make it look beautiful, even in its decay and even on digital video. The standout among those images has got to be Sour Grapes, a young street beggar purposefully deformed as a child to be made a slave, who doesn't walk so much as gallop. Although the economic and social hardships that Fitzgerald's characters encounter are all disturbing to various degrees, his sentiments often feel like the product of self-righteous do-good-ism or watered down exploitation and the movie suffers from a jumpy, disjointed narrative. I guess when it comes to shaggy dog stories, not all movies are created equal. Ain't that a bitch? (Mongrel Media)