Wednesday, 21 December 2016

REVIEW - DOG EAT DOG (PAUL SCHRADER)


You've heard of car crash entertainment, right? The kind of piece so calamitous in its construction that it resembles a car crash - a disaster, no doubt, but a fascinating one. Well, here's your archetype. Car crash entertainment on a catastrophic scale, Paul Schrader's bold, bitter retort to an industry that's always rejected him as much as embraced him. Dog Eat Dog is the very apotheosis of the expression of the dissociated, ageing, heterosexual white male, a violent and virulent assault on a world that's leaving him behind. Schrader responds in form, as game as he is limited by the essential unsalability of his premise, with a film that's as cheap and nasty as it should be. Fascinating from far off, like a car crash, and as close as a film can surely get to being equally depressing on close inspection. Dog Eat Dog is not merely nihilistic and crass, it's viciously so, and not complimented by its soulless amateurishness, as was the intention, but its deficiencies exacerbated by it. It makes total, incontrovertible sense that something so morally ugly should be commensurately stylistically ugly, but 'car crash entertainment' must at least strive to entertain, and Schrader's determined refusal to entertain all but the coarsest, shallowest of souls produces a film that's largely barren of worth for the large part of us. It's a statement, for sure, loud and horribly clear, a rabid bite back at a society that's moving ever onward. But Schrader's statement is simplistic, and wanting for worth itself, apparently confirming that this old dog has very little to say anymore.