A Dog’s Will Review

Edited down from a four-part mini-series, A Dog’s Will is a ninety-minute Brazilian comedy following two poor beggars that con their way through life. After their deaths, they must first be judged by the Virgin Mary, Jesus, and then the Devil. It’s a premise that has a bountiful number of opportunities, and I was rather intrigued as to where Guel Arraes would go with them. Nowhere, is the answer to my intrigue. Nothing interesting ever comes of these intrepid ventures into the reality-bending moments of A Dog’s Will. Comedy is subjective, but there’s nothing here that would elicit much laughter, perhaps the divide of culture is simply too grand to stitch together with this one, although I doubt that very much.

I can appreciate the two leading performances, somewhat solid and clearly going for a more upbeat and whimsical style, but it falls flat thanks to a script that never takes off. Translation issues? Lack of understanding? A brain that just doesn’t know how to function when real comedy is presented to him? Who knows? None of the above is my guess. My brain might be rattled from drinking and fatigue, but it’s not shrivelled to the point of misunderstanding. I understand perfectly well that A Dog’s Will just isn’t for me. Then again, I’m not sure who this is fore. The comedy is lacking, and that’s being nice.

From a technical point, the film doesn’t come together. If the comedy is absent at times, then in its place is a horrifically muddled style of direction, edited together with a genuine lack of competency. Its murky colours mix poorly with a dim vision for where this film should go. We go nowhere exciting, even the scenarios thrown at us offer up little in the way of artistic or comic vision. If the feature is so embarrassingly dull, I can’t imagine the horrors of its mini-series. Such a cross is not worth bearing, and I’ve no time to sanction such bland and frustrating forms of comedy.

One ruminating thought did pierce through often, though. Perhaps the jokes are in fact lost to the translation. That’s not much of an excuse considering I’ve had great times with other foreign comedy films. Playtime was sublime. Delicatessen was magnificently dark. Duck Soup a classic for the ages. A Dog’s Will doesn’t have all that much going for it, too serious to be a comedy, too whimsical and disjointed to be a compelling drama, it toils in the middle ground without ever really committing to the ideas and plot points on display. A real mess, like the time I tried to make a pasta bake and dropped the jar of sauce into the tray. Surely there’s some sustenance in there, but it’s not worth biting down on broken glass to get to it.

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