Dogman ★★★★

Italian dog groomer is dominated by local bully until things go too far - strong and intimate with a great supporting dog cast,

longer review on release: This powerful drama about a gentle dog groomer who gets dragged into a criminal friend’s circle is anchored by a strong performance by Marcello Fonte as the groomer. It finds individual strength and courage in a grim seaside town in Italy, as Fonte finds himself squeezed by the expectations of his brutish friend, and eventually rebels and finds his own freedom. There’s a glorious gentility to Fonte’s role – his kindness to his daughter and the animals around him and his integrity is contrasted with the rundown town, and how little attention others pay to him.

Director Matteo Garrone shows a strong eye for the unusual beauty in a broken town, and builds tension effectively as the relationship between Marcello and his old friend Simone gradually becomes intractably dangerous. This is a thoroughly effective film (and, no, none of the dogs in the film are harmed or appear in particularly much peril).