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A nerve-shredding, palm-sweating thriller.......and drama
on 26 October 2007
This film is one of the best works of Sam Peckinpah this movie deals with the true humanitarian phenomena, human nature for sexual orientation and needs and the most human seduction and temptation. This movie thrills you from the start to the end and the most magnificent aspect of the movie is its ambiguity and confusing nature of climax. "Straw Dogs" is an intense thriller that shows what can happen when you push even the mildest mannered man too far. In here, Dustin Hoffman plays a mathematician who temporarily moves to a house in a rural village in England with his wife, a former resident of the town, played by Susan George. The two withstand incessant needling from several of the townsfolk until George is raped and assaulted and Hoffman is pushed over the edge.
Incidentally, right after watching this film I found a documentary on cable about filmmakers from the late '60s to late '70s and one of the directors profiled was Sam Peckinpah. I had always considered his films to be violent and vaguely shocking, which never surprised me, knowing that he was a hard-living maverick who did things his way - an element that is resplendent in most of his films. A brief mention of Straw Dogs was included in this documentary, where they described it as a "sexist film". There are obvious scenes in the film that could support this criticism, but I think that is overanalyzing the film with a political correctness that is out of place. While the two female characters are both victimized, Susan George also has her moments of empowerment. I may be a female, but I don't consider Peckinpah's tendency to make testosterone-driven films any more sexist than anything that Tarantino puts out, and I'm a big fan of his work as well. It's a dangerous line to draw when one labels a film due to what is *not* included in a film.
What this film does contain is much more stellar - Hoffman is beyond incredible in this film. His character development is amazing to experience. One criticism of the film that I heard from a friend who saw it before me was that it "dragged." I couldn't disagree more. The development of the story until the extremely violent climax is a perfect pace because it made me feel like I was sitting in a dentist chair, knowing that this low boil could explode at any time. After the dust settles, the viewer is left to decide whether Hoffman's character made the right decision, and left to speculate on the ramifications of the choices made. This is by far one of the best films I've seen in recent months and from this director.