Monday, March 16, 2015

Barking Dogs Never Bite

In many ways this is the kind of formally flashy film first time directors often make. Every other cut in Barking Dogs Never Bite is a match cut and on one of the occasions that it's not it's a rather goofy demonstration of the Kuleshov effect that appears to have been used for no readily apparent reason. (Aside from linking the two main characters I guess? But they are already pretty firmly linked by that point...)

That's not to say that Bong Joon-ho is all about empty tricks here - far from it. For example he employs a rather low key variation of the "people mover" shot to make an ethically dubious discussion suitably queasy. One might argue that he's over-egging it - the scene is already shot in an overlit restroom - but given the outsized goofiness of the film as a whole it fits right in.

That outsized goofiness never gets in the way of its overwhelming sincerity. This is a remarkably sympathetic portrait of scrabbling suburbanites. While the characters suffer every indignation and reversal possible and many give in to their canine instincts in order to pursue their place in the sun they all ultimately transcend both their suffering and their human nature. Even the typically overbearing wife is revealed to have been straitjacketed into her role by the patriarchy and even the cruelest fate suffered is revealed to have a silver lining.

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