Just when you thought that dogs are the most infinitely lovable and devoted creatures you think they are, Hungarian filmmaker Kornél Mundruczó punches through a poetic yet blistering slice of realism that portrays the animosity and wrath of the canine species. White God is an intensely jaw-dropping treatise on animal neglect and cruelty, that you’ll think twice the next time you mistreat any poor stray pup on the street. It does to dogs what Alfred Hitchcock’s masterful The Birds did to seagulls, but where Hitchcock’s film depict an avian freak of nature, Mundruczó goes so far as essaying the emotional and mental capacity of dogs to possess enmity as a direct result of trauma, exploitation and injustice.[divider]+[/divider]
White God achieves a sense of hard, brutal poetry and urgency that’s sorely lacking in doomsday movies of late.[divider]+[/divider]
Here, Mundruczó doesn’t rely on the mere adorability factor of its canine creatures, and instead portrays, harrowingly, the odyssey of a certain half-breed mutt named Hagen (performed by two twin dogs, whose acting range far surpasses many of the humans who call themselves ‘trained Hollywood actors’ in the industry today), providing depth and a stunning character arc to a gentle, domesticated mutt into a snarling savage devoid of affections for its human counterparts. And where Hollywood has capitalised nearly all of its motion-capture animal performance from one Andy Serkis (no dig, the man has done wonders, mind), we’ve somehow forgotten that nothing replaces the real thing. The incredible dog actors here further provide evidence that real animal presence have more bite and grit than Serkis snarling in front of a green screen.
The dog Hagen’s character trajectory is so powerful that it overshadows any sign of human drama (particularly the dog’s best friend Lili and her contrarian father locked in a love-hate relationship that is just ever so banal), building to a nightmarish crescendo where the city has literally gone to the dogs. In a practical feat of filmmaking, Mundruczó and his team of animal trainers unleash hundreds of dogs in Budapest (which sounds like a logistical nightmare in itself) and in the process, sending a giant middle finger to the movie industry’s over-reliance of CGI. In White God, the screen burns with intensity and becomes more technically compelling the less computer pixels are involved, achieving a sense of hard, brutal poetry and urgency that’s sorely lacking in doomsday movies of late.