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One Man and his Big Dog
on 9 February 2006
It's not often that I have the patience to watch a film with sub-titles, but I'm glad I made the effort with this film.
When an Argentinian petrol pump attendant loses his job after 30 years he feels that his life has no direction. With his wife dead and a married daughter who barely tolerates him living in her home, he tries to scrape a living by selling knives with handles that he carves himself. With little success, he craves human contact and keeps his dignity by doing favours and showing kindness to strangers.
After giving a woman a hand repairing a car he is offered a very big dog as payment. The arrival of the dog makes him the centre of attention from a diverse cast of characters and the story follows him and the dog as they develop a bond and help each other to find their place in the world.
This is a touching and moving film that is helped by excellent performances from practically everyone who appears on the screen. Shot in Patagonia, the beautiful but desolate landscapes emphasise the feeling of isolation that the man feels. A haunting score, written and performed by the directors son, portrays the loneliness and subsequent triumph of a man whose direction was lost and then found.
While this film isn't going to change your life, it is well worth 90 minutes of your time as a change from the usual Hollywood output and I defy you not to feel good about life, and the human spirit, by the closing credits.
The extras on the DVD include some interesting, but eventually repetitive, interviews with the creative team where we discover that none of the cast are actual actors but intead were members of the public chosen by the director to appear because of the way they looked. This makes the performances all the more remarkable.