New Horizons 2016. Polish Shorts. Review of “The Dogcatcher” by Daria Woszek

Daria Woszek’s 3rd short film, “The Dogcatcher”, is a funny, spooky and macabre tale about Bru, a fastidious loner who appears to have a knack for returning lost dogs to their owners – that is, after kidnapping them and holding them hostage for ransom. But, one day, he kidnaps a German shepherd that turns out to be a stray dog…

“The Dogcatcher” premiered at last year’s Warsaw Film Festival and was presented at the Short Film Corner of this year’s Cannes Film Festival before going on to have a rather successful run on the festival circuit – among which the 16th edition of the T-Mobile New Horizons International Film Festival.

Woszek’s film is a grotesque and comical story that raises moral questions about stealing, conning and animal euthanasia but also one that shows, at the same time, the redeeming quality of animal love and the strength of the bond between man and dog. Mutual understanding, caring and healing prove that dogs are, indeed, our best friends. “The Dogcatcher” is also a study on the possibility and power of change as well as loneliness, depicted through the portrayal of a man who surrounds himself with a wall that separates him from the rest of the world.

In that regard, the leading actor, Janusz Chabior, has created a mysterious, dark and hardened character who slowly but surely succeeds in winning our sympathy. As a matter of fact, this intriguing character has something in him that makes us root for him. Chabior’s is an exceptional performance.

Woszek’s film is constructed in a way that highlights the organized and meticulous rhythm of Bru’s life, its pace set by the recurring musical theme – courtesy of Marcin Macuk, the shopping scenes and Bru’s counted steps, minutely repeated and recreated every single time. In fact, 75.30 zł is the exact amount that Bru spends during every visit to the supermarket. Everything in his life is planned, repetitive and unmistaken – just like his daily list of groceries that consists of milk, eggs, frozen foods, cigarettes and dog food.

“The Dogcatcher” has the right dose of humor that is well balanced with elements stemming from macabre and Tarantino-esque moments as well as absurd humor, coming, in turn, precisely from the aforementioned routine. If the film makes us laugh, it is exactly because of that, but also through unvoiced dialogues, long takes and its charismatic protagonist.

One of “The Dogcatcher”’s strong points is its imagery, deftly captured by Michał Sosna, contrasting the supermarket’s colorful interiors with the bleak and dark interiors of Bru’s home, the place where he hides from the world, and showing us that his world is (must be) as dark and lonely as his home.

The camerawork, the music and the strong performances from both human and canine thespians make “The Dogcatcher” a true gem among short films and one that perfectly showcases Woszek’s evident talent. A smart and dynamic black comedy, it is a fun, cool and endearing half-hour.



Production: Cor Leonis Production (Poland 2015)

Producers: Janusz Bielecki and Marta Lachacz (producers), Michał Sosna and Daria Woszek (co-producers), Agata Bobola (creative producer)

Director: Daria Woszek

Screenplay: Jagoda Janowska and Daria Woszek

Cinematography: Michał Sosna

Music: Marcin Macuk

Editing: Piotr Mendelowski

Cast: Anna Antoniewicz (Roxana), Janusz Chabior (Bru), Marian Dziedziel, Tomasz Schimscheiner, Agnieszka Wosinska

Color – 30 min.

Premiere: 12/10/2015 (Warsaw Film Festival)

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