(Bombón the Dog)
2004 - Dir: Carlos Sorin
Shown in FeckenOdeon 2 on 13th February, 2009
Argentina is a bit of a mystery to most of us. Our thoughts of this vast country (the 8th largest in the world) are inextricably entangled with images of war and the crude "Argie" bashing headlines the Falklands conflict generated. It’s good to be able to present a film that lifts the lid to reveal ordinary people leading ordinary lives - and to note that, despite all else that divides us, Argies and Brits have one thing in common - a weakness for big slobbery dogs.
The film was made in Patagonia, the arid, featureless flatlands of southernmost Argentina - a harsh landscape that reflects both the desolation and the resilience of the principal character. Poverty caused by Argentina’s economic collapse is the source for Juan’s adventures, but the director concentrates on how his characters overcome it rather than dwelling on the depressing side of hardship. It's filmed with a beautiful sense of the Patagonian countryside--expansive deserts, dusty towns, invasive commercial culture. Basically this is a simple series of adventures for a man and his dog as they transform each other's life. Each sequence is inventive and disarmingly entertaining, with big laughs and small insights.
Director Carlos Sorin handles his simple tale with an unashamedly sentimental touch. He’s aided in this by the delightfully simple acting style of his main character - Juan Villegas is an amateur actor and was formerly employed as the studio’s car park attendant - his gentle and genuine performance carries the film. The rest of the charm offensive is in the expert paws of Gregorio who plays Bombón as if he was born to star on the silver screen.
The film has a 15 certificate. You may think this odd for such a charming and inoffensive film. The censor apparently took exception to one scene. You’ll know that scene when you see it - it’s the one where Bombón (ahem!) "comes of age" and proves that this is not so much a shaggy dog story as a.... erm ... doggy sh** story.