Dog Days
4 out of 5 starsHundstage
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feel the heat From Austria, this is one of those multiple-plot films in which we watch a series of completely separate stories that all touch on similar settings and themes. It's suburban Vienna on the hottest days of the year. The sun is pounding on the soulless concrete architecture and people are lonely and irritable. There are six stories, each of which features at least two damaged souls who react to their situation with confusion, apathy, resilience and/or cruelty. They are all trying to connect with someone else, but the results are seriously mixed!

Director-cowriter Seidl cleverly juxtaposes images, cutting between the stories at all the "wrong" times. For example, following a school teacher (Jirku) from a graphic orgy into a garish shopping mall, then to her empty house. The film is strikingly understated, but the camera work is telling and often startling ... which is the same way you'd describe the storylines and performances. It has the feel of improv; earthy humour and raw honesty express feelings of frustration, pent-up desire, dull routine and, above all, coping with the overwhelming heat. And the characters are all intriguing even though they're profoundly unattractive for a variety of reasons. Yes, this film is hard to watch at times. But it's an eerily accurate look at how harsh a society based on the individual can be.

cert 18 strong themes, language, sex, nudity, violence 21.Aug.02

dir Ulrich Seidl
scr Ulrich Seidl, Veronica Franz
with Maria Hoffstatter, Alfred Mrva, Erich Finsches, Gerti Lehner, Franziska Weiss, Rene Wanko, Claudia Martini, Victor Rathbone, Christian Bakonyi, Christine Jirku, Victor Hennemann, Georg Friedrich
release UK 6.Sep.02; Sundance Jan.02
02/Austria 2h01

Codependant. Klaudia and Mario (Weiss and Wanko) are most definitely mismatched! She's shy and needy; he's a macho brute....

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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall