Tag Archives: coming of age drama

White God (2015 Sundance)

10 Feb

It’s a dog-eat-dog world.

Set in inner-city Budapest, White God tells the story of Lili (Zsofia Psotta) trying to reunite with her lovable dog Hagen after he is cruelly abandoned and left for the local pound. It’s a familiar set up that has been done a zillion times before, but never quite like this.  You get bits of a coming-of-age story, family drama, black comedy, and even apocalyptic horror mixed in. On paper, this film would spell disaster, but somehow it all works and adds up to an emotionally draining but immensely satisfying experience.

The film opens with a surreal sequence featuring Lili pedaling downtown being chased by hundreds of stray dogs. Avoiding any hint of CGI and instead relying on real animals, director Kornel Mundruczo shot on set with literally hundreds dogs and the result is absolutely incredible. I can only imagine what sort of logistical nightmare the film set must have been, and it’s a cinematic miracle that any usable footage was collected at all. By expertly blending various tonal shifts, Mundruczo commands the action in every continuing scene. Though the film swaps perspectives after the first act, we get an incredible sense of Lili’s and Hagen’s emotional states through the clever camerawork and production design. Weather alongside Lili at a club or following Hagen into an abandoned construction site, the audience is completely captivated.

Later on, the film gets a bit lengthy and White God would be better served with a quick edit. Patience pays off however during the film’s last act, where Hagen returns to the action as a blood-thirsty killer seeking vengeance. It’s here where the film really picks things up, and the audience is treated with a greatly entertaining and horrific finish.

Bottom Line: While it’s certainly not for everyone (kids and animal lovers might be best suited elsewhere) White God is an incredibly engaging viewing experience with the best canine cast to ever be featured in cinema.

Rating 7/10 

Similar to: The Birds (1963), Let The Right One In (2008), The Kid With A Bike (2011)