5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A day in the life of a serial killer...,
This review is from: Man Bites Dog  [DVD]  (DVD)
A sort of serial killing This Is Spinal Tap without the jokes, as a satire Remy Belvaux, Andre Bonzel and Benoit Poelvoorde's Man Bites Dog just isn't very funny. The film is more a stylistic exercise and intellectual essay on cinema's relationship with violence, and as such is open to endless debate and reinterpretation.
The film follows the exploits of the smug, self-satisfied Benoit Poelvoorde as he goes about his daily work - murder for pleasure and profit - with a low-budget black and white documentary film crew in tow. The crew become seduced by the violence they 'document', carrying on with an interview while holding down a child for him to kill and participating in and instigating a gang rape. They are untouched by the horror of his actions until it directly affects them, most particularly in a sort of running joke in which their soundmen keep getting killed.
This complicity between filmmakers and life-takers is compounded by the fact that the film's killer and camera crew all use their real names on screen. There is certainly an inherent element of criticism of the artist's acceptance of violence as a form of self-expression - not only the film crew but a female musician Poelvoorde knows accept his actions as just being 'his work.'
The violence is shocking, as it should be, more for this casual acceptance (although the most genuinely disturbing moment is the fraction of a second when Poelvoorde's laughter dies and is immediately replaced by a grim face after the music lesson), but is never openly condemned. Since none of the characters on screen exercise any morality, it is up to the viewer to bring his or her morality to bear on the picture. Not always easy viewing, the film is ultimately more interesting for the issues it raises about filmmakers and filmgoers complicity in screen violence than for what is actually on screen.
The picture quality is acceptable given the film's extremely low budget origins. Less so are the subtitles, frequently illegible as they are printed white-on-white.