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White God (2014)

Lily (Zsofia Psotta) and her dog Hagen have some tough times ahead in "White God".

Lily (Zsofia Psotta) and her dog Hagen have some tough times ahead in “White God”.

Recently, I got into a conversation with my older brother about movies staring dogs, and he said he could not think of a single good movie with dogs. Now that I have seen White God, I may have a film to challenge him.

White God tells the story of 13 year old Lily (a strong newcomer named Zsofia Posotta) who is forced to live with her father (Sandor Zsoter) as her mother goes off on a three month trip. Her only companion is her dog, Hagen. This dog is not well liked at all by her father, let alone anyone else in the film. After being caught taking him to band rehearsal, the father gets angry enough to leave the dog on the side of the road.

What happens after? Well, I won’t say. I had no idea the film would take the turns it did, and I am grateful I did not know ahead of time. What I will say is the film is NOT for kids. Parents, there is a LOT of violence, and I will leave it at that. High School and above.

The film is also unique in its use of dogs (none were harmed in the making of this film). You see the treatment of dogs and wonder why certain people do what they do. I know I was wondering the same. The film has some strong scenes, most of which are shot beautifully. There is one scene where a dog does some of the best acting you will see by an animal on film. I won’t say when, but it is a face given as if saying “What have I done?”

There are also great parallels given between Hagen and Lily. Hagen is living on the streets, realizing the blunt realities of life, and Lily is entering her teenage years. We see Hagen go from a scene of utter brutal life lessons to one of Lily learning one of her own. It is quite effective (it reminded me of Robert Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar.)

For the record, I do love dogs. I made it clear to myself that, when I came home, I would love up on my dog. You may feel yourself doing the same.

Overall: 3 and a Half Stars ***1/2

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