Australians love telling stories, thereís no doubt about it. Whether it
be the Aboriginal tales of dreamtime, passed down through songs and
artwork, or the exaggerated tales told around every barbeque,
water-cooler and bar in the nation, yarn-spinning is one of our
what Red Dog is, a yarn. Most of the story is related by key characters
as they lean on a bar or smile and stare past the camera, as if gazing
into the past.
beginning of the narrative, publican Jack (Noah Taylor) tells how he and
wife come across the titular pooch, sitting and waiting in the middle of
an outback road. They give the dog a lift into the mining town of
Dampier, and he quickly becomes a mascot for the local workforce. Owned
by no-one, loved by all, he comes and goes where he pleases. The dynamic
changes when Red Dog latches onto American bus driver John (Josh Lucas).
John is reluctant at first, but a mutual bond slowly forms until the
pair are true friends.
John catches the eye of local girl Nancy (Rachael Taylor) and the
friendship starts to show signs of strain. The pace of the story ebbs
and flows, often detouring into surprising and quirky sub-plots. Itís
not just one narrative but several, woven together through the
viewpoints of different characters.
an episode involving a stolen bit of steak and a giant shark, and a
hilarious Mexican stand-off with a very nasty looking cat.
dialogue is more fanciful than realistic, with a surreal Ďstorybookí
kind of feel to it. Even if the characters tend to ramble in their
monologues, they are beautifully eloquent. Some of the more emotional
sections rival a presidential election speech in the way that they make
the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
actors (more than one doggy was used to play the role) have been
utilised very well, but on some occasions you get the feeling that they
were being asked to express too much. Sometimes the actors respond to
the dogís facial expressions or actions in a way that doesnít seem
believable. Thankfully these moments are very few and far between.
cinematography is beautiful, and makes excellent use of the stunning
scenery on offer. There are some truly memorable shots, such as a lonely
Red Dog trotting down a deserted pier, surrounded by silent machinery.
The sun, as a natural light source, is used exceptionally well,
drenching the frame in warm colours.
on the DVD is the mandatory audio commentary, as well as a handful of
deleted scenes, storyboards and trailers. The most interesting special
feature takes you through the training of the various animals used in
the movie, who are of course the real stars.
Red Dog is
a great little Aussie tale, full of colourful characters and memorable
scenarios. Oh and one more thing: This movie can be a real tear-jerker.
Itís the first time Iíve seen my girlfriend cry while watching a DVD.
Donít say I didnít warn you!