Dog Day Afternoon

Dog Day Afternoon ★★★★★

There is an authenticity to Dog Day Afternoon that is usually very difficult to capture. Sidney Lumet's documentary style direction, the confined setting, the distinctive characters, the naturalistic dialogue and the stark absence of non-diegetic music all merge to convincingly convey such a mood. Like all truly great films it also feels as relevant as ever. It deftly touches on themes of economic inequality, police brutality, media frenzy and gender identity throughout the central conflict; a conflict which moves from humorous to intense to tragic in a consistently gripping manner.

I cannot praise the acting enough. John Cazale, Charles Durning, Chris Sarandon, Penelope Allen and James Broderick all give excellent supporting turns but this film belongs to Al Pacino. To call his screen presence mesmerising would be an understatement. His ability to create complex yet believable characters was unparalleled at this point in time. He brings a nervous energy that keeps tension high but also aptly exudes a sense of unease and sadness that makes his role deeply sympathetic despite his actions. Just look at the prolonged phone call sequence near the climax where he beautifully runs the gamut of emotions so effectively, it is acting at its finest. In a career full of superb performances, I think this might be his very best.

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