White God (2015; Kornel Mundruczo)
By Daniel Barnes
*Opens today at the Embarcadero Center Cinemas in San Francisco.
A striking film from its opening shots of wild dogs stampeding through the streets of an abandoned city, Hungarian director Kornel Mundruczo’s White God is one of the more unusual and virtually indescribable films of early 2015.
The divorced and embittered father of a petulant thirteen-year-old girl abandons the girl’s mixed-breed mutt by the side of the road. At the same time, the girl takes some difficult and dangerous steps towards maturity, while the dog begins a brutal and bloody journey home.
At times it plays likes a live-action, Neorealist version of a Disney adventure. Sometimes it’s more of a Dickensian experience with a canine hero (Rover Copperfield?), it often indulges in the urban misery tourism of Amores Perros. Finally, it morphs into one of the most unexpected and unnecessary Planet of the Apes clones I’ve ever seen.
White God is too expertly realized and what-the-fuck-was-that audacious to not at least recommend. However, I felt dispirited and cheated to have endured so much animal-related violence only to arrive at the Shawshank Redemption and Deep Blue Sea beats of the ending.