2004 Running time: 98 Certificate: 15 Rating: 3

Synopsis

The dog is about the only professional actor in this touching tale of a redundant mechanic discovering life begins at 50 when he hits the canine competition trail with his recently acquired Argentine Dogo mutt. Director Carlos Sorin draws splendidly natural performances from a cast of unknowns in this award-pedigree caper.

Director

  • Carlos Sorín

Cast

  • Juan Villegas

  • Walter Donado

  • Rosa Valsecchi

  • Gregorio

Review

Argentinian director Carlos Sorin obviously likes to do things the hard way - not only does he cast a gang of unknowns...he has them acting opposite a dog.

It's about Juan (Villegas), who is trying to forge a career selling homemade knives ("this handle's made of antelope bone) after being sacked after 20 years as a mechanic.

Wistful and good-natured, his roadside assistance for a broken-down woman motorist lands him with Lechien - a purebred Argentine Dogo - for his trouble.

The hound's first act is to get Juan kicked out of his daughter's home...so he sets off in his knackered jeep looking for work.

After an abortive episode as a security guard with his own dog, he's pointed in the direction of the exuberant Walter, a veteran of the dog show circuit.

Apparently Lechien's got what it takes (his mother is Crystal Goddess of the Apostles) and Walter proposes a 50-50 partnership in contests across Argentina.

Central to the success of this unassuming yet cheerful little tale is the performance of Juan Villegas, whose wistful demeanour is a natural in front of the camera.

The trouble is you don't know whether he's delivering a technically pitch-perfect portrayal of a bashful middle-aged man totally bewildered by his new circumstances or he genuinely doesn't know what the hell's going on.

If you buy into the former - and it's much better if you do - then his passage alongside the explosive Walter throws up a myriad of delights.

The tale may need pepping up with a couple of Bob Martin condition tablets by the end but - as shaggy dog stories go - it's worth staying with.