Jason Arment reviews Dogman, a film about a dog groomer involved in a dangerous relationship with Simone, a former boxer and neighborhood bully. (Magnolia Pictures)
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I want to SIE FilmCenter to see Dogman. Because of the name, I wondered if the film would be a strange superhero film, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
I discovered a story of petty crime, broken dreams, and revenge. The movie is named after the main character’s dog grooming salon, which has Dogman in English across its sign. The owner, Marcello, is respected in his community, but has a few dark secrets. Marcello is kind to animals and passionate about showing dogs at competitions. He’s created a successful business for himself and garnered the respect of the neighborhood. Besides his cocaine habit and scumbag friend Simoncino, Marcello is doing well and enjoying his successes.
(Theatrical one-sheet for Dogman; image courtesy of Magnolia Pictures)
A Dogman movie without Simoncino in it would have been much different. Dogman doesn’t shy away from telling the so-common-it’s-vulgar story of an otherwise good person caught up in crime only to find their friends without understanding and partner lacking loyalty.
While being a morally bleak film, one facet of the film I wasn’t expecting is the cinematography. Dogman was pleasing to watch, with many long takes and great shots.
Simoncino is a large, battle-scarred, brutish leader with the bad temper and self-control of an ill-mannered child. None too smart, the big thug has little more in life than his motorcycle. The town terror, Simoncino, is a bully, thief, and all-around maniac. Marcello is Simoncino’s coke dealer, and from time to time they rob houses, Marcello as the getaway driver and reluctant fellow burglar. Marcello isn’t running with Simoncino for the money. In fact, Simoncino regularly underpays him. Instead, it’s the access to nightlife, girls, and popularity that is Simoncino’s real utility. A sort of chauffer of the seedy underbelly of society.
Loyalty, betrayal, and punishment are what Dogman is about, usually in that order. The consequences always mean more to the characters than the corruption of themselves. While being a morally bleak film, one facet of the film I wasn’t expecting is the cinematography. Dogman was pleasing to watch, with many long takes and great shots. The dogs are especially interesting visually, along with the interior of his shop. The ending is satisfying, but doesn’t offer closure, not the kind we’re looking for. In Dogman, not every dog gets its day.