Dogman is the new film by Matteo Garrone, who directed, in 2008, the acclaimed Gomorra, film which brought further light on the Camorra, the mafia organisation in Naples. This film was based on the famous book written by Roberto Saviano, who lives, since the release of the book, under police protection.
Dogman is a bittersweet tale told to us directly from the heart of a dog lover and devoted father, interpreted by Marcello Fonte, who won the award to the best actor at the last Cannes edition.
Marcello lives in a decadent neighbourhood in the outskirts of Naples, on the sea front facing somber grey waters. He runs a humble establishment where he takes care of dogs, he washes them, trims their nails, combs out their knots and keeps them when the owners go on holidays.
He talks to them in a loving manner calling them honey, darling, love. He is an affectionate man. He has a 9 years-old daughter with her ex-wife whom he adores. He takes her to do scuba diving in nearby waters while they dream to go together to exotic destinations like Hawaii or the Maldives. The scene of Marcello passing a protective arm over her daughter’s shoulders on the boat after their diving while they contemplate the sea in silence, is just pure paternal love.
Marcello has lots of friends in the neighbourhood, they play football together and go to eat often a huge plate of pasta at a scruffy trattoria near Marcello’s shop. They laugh and talk about the small things of everyday’s life.
But they have a problem. A big problem called Simone. He is a scum cocaine addicted who has recently come out from prison and has gone back to his mother’s place, in the neighbourhood.
He starts terrorising everyone with his violent behaviour and vile menances. Specially Marcello. Simone knows he has a good heart and can’t say no. And when he eventually decides to say no, Simone uses fear.
Marcello will have to trespass limits he never thought he would until he can’t take it anymore.
Dogman shows us all the beauty and ugliness of the human being, condensed in a poor neighbourhood of Italy. There aren’t many words, images are very strong. They talk about friendship, and fear and the power of both. They talk about desperate measures for desperate situations and love for friends, family and dogs. Specially for dogs.
The film transcures only in a couple of settings which provokes a feeling of being trapped, of being unable to escape poverty and cruelty.
The director makes a brilliant use of the weather to accompany the story; for the difficult scenes he makes the actors move under a miserable rain, which makes us all shiver. And he reserves for the light moments the merry sunlight of the south of Italy.
Dogman is for me, another exponent of the resuscitation of Italian cinema.
It was about time Italian filmmakers would shine again with that forgotten splendour once they well deserved had.