|Die Frankfurt-Tipp Bewertung:|
|Laufzeit:||Ca. 121 Min.|
|FSK:||From 12 years|
Life doesn't mean well with 13 year old Lili (Zsofia Psotta). First she has to move in with her father, who shows no interest at all in her and constantly grumbles about her. And then her beloved mongrel dog Hagen becomes the victim of a new measure to regulate dog breeding. Afterwards dogs, which are not pure-bred, are subject to a high tax, which Lili's father does not want to pay. Therefore Hagen should be picked up by dog catchers. Of course Lili wants to prevent this and so she helps her four-legged friend to escape. After Hagen has avoided many dangers on the streets of Budapest from now on, he finally ends up in an animal shelter. There he becomes the leader of a bloody dog revolution, which even Lili apparently can't stop anymore...
With his sixth feature film "Underdog" the Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó has created a very interesting, surprisingly multi-layered work, which apart from some lengths also reveals many surprisingly intense moments. The whole thing begins as a silent coming-of-age drama about a young girl who suffers from the separation of her parents and the disregard of her father. After about forty minutes the focus of the film changes and now Hagen and other mongrel dogs rejected by society are in the spotlight. And little by little the quiet youth drama turns into a dark horror thriller in the tradition of "The Birds". When a pack of wild dogs chases through the deserted streets of Budapest, it always creates atmospheric goose bumps. A few bloody scenes additionally set effective horror accents.
The rebellion of the expelled dogs, which are regarded by the state as inferior and therefore expelled, naturally offers much room for interpretation. But even if you don't see any social criticism in it, you're guaranteed to be carried away by the second half of the film. Only real dogs were filmed, which were looked after by first-class animal trainers. Mundruczó deliberately avoids the use of computer effects, which significantly intensifies the effect of dog attacks. With his animal actors, for whom there was - no kidding - a "dog palm" at the Cannes Film Festival, the filmmaker creates some scenes that burn themselves into the memory of the audience for a long time.
However, it must also be said that there are some distinct lengths during the two hours of the film. Especially the first hour is very tough. Certainly, a careful reconstruction of history makes sense. But in the end, the exposition could have been much more streamlined, without the viewers losing sight of the message the film wants to convey. The difficult relationship between Lili and her father already becomes clear when the two meet for the first time, as there wouldn't have been any need for many more explanatory scenes. The worn beginning makes it difficult to find access to the story, which is really a pity in view of the strong second half.
However, even though the overall impression is a little clouded by this, "Underdog" is a really special film and an absolutely worth seeing contribution to the sub-genre of animal horror. A truly gripping parable in the second half about two-tier societies and social injustice that shows that uncomfortable problems cannot simply be locked away. For friends of the more demanding horror and abysmal dramas the following applies: Worth seeing!
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