Claudia Leisinger DOG DAYS

Dir: Ulrich Seidl
Cast: Georg Friedrich, Victor Hennemann, Christine Jirku
Certificate: 18
Release Date: September 6th 2002

Who knew that present-day Vienna was actually the sweatiest circle of Hell? After witnessing Dog Days, you may feel the need for a shower, and not just from its scorching depiction of the hottest stretch of summer. Six loosely linked tales blowtorch the sterile façade of Austrian suburbia, revealing an emotional meltdown into despair, self-loathing and violence.

The relentless focus on physical and psychological degradation, along with all the bloated, glistening flesh constantly shunted into the foreground - there’s more sizzling fat here than at a dozen greasy spoons - pushes the film precariously close to freak show territory. But the cool detachment of Seidl (Austria’s most controversial documentary maker in his feature debut) and his camera, shots of jet-black humour and the matchless performances from his cast of actors and non-professionals temper an understanding, if not an acceptance, of his searing indictment: life’s a bitch and then you fry.

* * * (3 stars)

'© Highbury Entertainment 2002. No material may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.'