Review by Matt Bailey
Posted on 10 July 2004
Source Kino Video DVD
One gets the impression from watching Dog Days that its director, Ulrich Seidel, wants nothing more than to be the next Michael Haneke but has absolutely no clue how to go about it other than by filming his actors in demeaning situations. Dog Days has no plot or story to speak of; it is essentially six superficially related, intercut vignettes of suburban life as they occur during an extreme heat wave. Seidel, apparently not seeing the point in providing most of his characters with names or characterizations, has forced me to devise creative ways of keeping track of each vignette in my notes on the film. I have listed them as Mario and girlfriend, security system salesman, weird fat old man, divorced couple, old whore, and crazy hitchhiker.
Mario is mean to his girlfriend out of jealousy. The security system salesman has a lot of job stress. The weird fat old man makes his housekeeper dress up in his dead wife’s dress and perform a strip tease for him on what would have been his fiftieth wedding anniversary. The divorced couple ignores each other. The old whore gets beat up and abused. The crazy hitchhiker likes to sing commercial jingles and recite top ten lists. And that, folks, is the film.
Stylistically void, intellectually vapid, narratively coarse, and exploitative of its actors in the worst possible way, the film is an abject failure on every level. It is nothing more than ugly people leading ugly lives and doing ugly things to each other. Material, possibly, for a very interesting film, but this is not that film.