Dog Pound

"Very Good"

Dog Pound Review


Shot like a clear-eyed documentary, this unnerving teen prison drama draws us in by never sensationalising its story or characters. Clearly an homage to Alan Clarke's 1979 classic Scum, this film re-deploys cliches with originality and skill.

Three teens enter a Montana juvenile detention centre together: hot-tempered Butch (Butcher) is 17, ladies-man Davis (Kippel) is 16, and young tough-guy Angel (Morales) is 15. They're immediately challenged by the top echelon of inmates and singled out for abuse, while their guard (Bayne) is just as harsh when they refuse to rat out their attackers. Still, they make a friend in the outcast Max (Twig), and find ways to survive and even thrive. But the violence is about to erupt in a very nasty way.

Filmmaker Chapiron creates a remarkably ordinary atmosphere that makes the situations and characters bracingly believable. Even when the formula kicks in (involving things like back-handed cruelty and the inmates' drug ring), scenes are underplayed nicely, making it feel authentic rather than overwrought. That doesn't mean that the emotional gut-punch is weakened; this is a provocative movie that isn't very easy to watch, especially as it keeps reminding us that these hardened criminals are really just children.

The cast of mostly non-actors is extremely effective, playing the roles as if they're improvised from real experience. They continually reveal little flashes of personality and humour within the scenes, while also showing us the weaknesses in their thick skins. Butcher is especially impressive; he has an electric screen presence and channels fearless bravado so sharply that we want to lean back from the screen. Meanwhile, Kippel has the more comical role, regaling the boys with his stories of conquest and then facing the film's most wrenching attack.

In some ways, the script is rather too constructed, playing a little too heavily on the irony of the "punishment" that's meted out (or not) to each of the three protagonists, their guard and their nemeses. It sometimes feels too deliberately grim, but these moments are counterbalanced by the longer scenes of sharply observed camaraderie punctuated by tiny jolts of sudden violence.

It's certainly not a film that you can get out of your head very easily.



Dog Pound

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 91 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 23rd June 2010

Box Office Worldwide: $430 thousand

Distributed by: Partizan Production

Production compaines: Granada Film Productions, Angoa-Agicoa, Téléfilm Canada, Partizan, Canal+

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Fresh: 17 Rotten: 9

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Kim Chapiron

Producer: Georges Bermann

Starring: Adam Butcher as Butch, Shane Kippel as Davis, Mateo Morales as Angel, Taylor Poulin as Banks, Slim Twig as Max, Dewshane Williams as Frank, Lawrence Bayne as Goodyear, Trent McMullen as Sands, Jeff McEnery as Loony, Bryan Murphy as Eckersley, Michael Morang as Hamel, Clayton Joseph as Karuk, Alexander Conti as Sal, William Christopher Ellis as Meakin (as William Ellis), Michael States Jr. as Gahege

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