Aug 26, 2011

Man Bites Dog (1992): C+

More impressive in conceptual audacity than finished product, Man Bites Dog never struck me as more than a thesis statement, despite some excellent faux-documentary aesthetics and a thoroughly enveloping performance by leading man BenoƮt Poelvoorde as the psychotic professional criminal followed around by a ragtag filming crew, who eventually get in on the killing and raping action. The depicted events herein are so horrifying (the elderly woman on whom he saves a bullet, and how; the children he dislikes killing, and why, etc.) that the chances of incriminating the audience into any kind of moral quagmire are remote at best. The result, then, isn't pointed commentary so much as sledgehammer satire, and it isn't particularly fun or insightful at that. When it becomes apparent we're supposed to care about these characters - even if we're not actively rooting for them - the proceedings become outright tedious. The sexy allure of violence - a la GoodFellas, Fight Club, etc. - is absent here (a needed point to counterpoint), and the film doesn't have the necessary ideological feet to stand on. I doesn't help when the supporting cast proves uniformly thick-headed in their relationships to these despicable people (even as a fantasy, it's hard to buy), or that the logic of the film's "creation" doesn't hold water in the end. If that's all part of a big joke, it's not one I find very funny or worthy of so much attention. An important film, yes, but one frequently surpassed and out-subverted.

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