Italian director of Gomorrah Matteo Garonne returns to a machismo gangster story with Dogman but one whose protagonist is seemingly innocent and gentle dog groomer.
At the start we see mild mannered Marcello (excellent Marcello Fonte) standing up to enormous dogs and showering them with love and affection. He has a young daughter and despite separation from the mother (who we never really see) has a wonderful loving relationship and plays five a side with many of the locals in this poor Italian community riddled with crime and poverty. He is well liked. But there is a darker side to Marcello; he also deals Coke which helps pay for the lavish holidays he takes his daughter on. This side of his ‘business’ brings him into contact with Simone (outstanding Eduardo Pesce), a huge thug who is becoming more and more wild in his actions in the town. In a classic abusive relationship Marcello constantly returns to Simone no matter what Simone dishes out. One night he is forced into being a getaway drover for Simone and his friend but on the escape he learns of them put a little dog in the freezer to shut her up. Distraught Marcello returns and risks everything to rescue the dog. Despite being coerced into going Marcello still accepts payment (however pitiful) and he enjoys a night out with Simone, taking coke stolen from local dealers and caressing beautiful strippers. So is Marcello a gullible fool or a man who knows what he is doing? The film veers to two events that have catastrophic results for both men.
Dogman is a bloody and violent film. Bones crunch, blood sprays, we can almost smell the metallic pungency. But what stays with the viewer are the tender moments, the softer parts. It is a film about the lure of being a gangster and the toxic seduction but also about hopelessness and temptation and greed. Marcello is a fascinating character and Dogman is a film that really gets its you in its jaws. A wonderful watch.