DOGMAN (France 2023) ***½

A film by Luc Besson


“Wherever there is an unfortunate, God sends a dog.” is a quote that is used in the film.  The unfortunate in the film is Kaleb (Caleb Landry Jones), a man dished out all the misfortunes of life.  His saviour is the canine species, a whole lot of dogs that bid Kaleb’s every command.

It all begins with an emergency at the Detention Centre.  Kolbe is injured and in drag.  He is questioned by a psychologist, who leaves her daughter with her mother in the middle of the night to handle this emergency.  At first hesitant, Kaleb eventually opens up to the psychologist.  His story unfolds as he tells his story, shown to the audience in flashbacks.

French director Lucy Besson is well known for his innovative films, his most successful and best films being LUCY, LEON, NIKITA and of course, THE FIFTH ELEMENT.  DOGMN i a lazy revenge fantasy something that is likely never seen before and the strangest film to be seen on the screen this year - a good thing.  If Besson’sfilm lacks credibility - the audience is supposed to believe that all of Kelly’s dogs can understand his English-spoken commands and can steal jewelry from a mansion.

Besson is French and his French imprint is clear in the film as he chooses Edith Piaf for Kaleb to perform in drag.  The film ends with an English version of Edith Piaf’s ‘Je Ne Regrette Rien’.  As in Besson’s films, DOGMAN is excessively violent and innocent people do get killed off as well, for dramatic effect.

The lead role of Kaleb is performed by American actor Caleb Landry Jones, known for quirky roles as in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and.  Jones has never failed to impress and DOGMAN is perhaps his best role as both a handicap and a drag queen.  His drag performances are superb, especially his rendition of ‘Lili Marlene’.

How the filmmakers got all the dogs trained to perform all the tricks seen on the screen is something that needs to be seen to be believed.  A variety of breeds are used and they are mostly adorable.

Not without flaws, Besson’s latest DOGMAN with its incredible plot and hard-to-believe situations is filmmaking that looks as impressive on screen as his futuristic FIFTH ELEMENT.  It is compulsive watching, for sure, though not for everybody, one cannot go away saying that the film is unforgettable in its execution.

DOGMAN opens in theatres on April 3rd.


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