Montreal Film Journal


You see them every day, walking around, barking, getting groped by strangers, taking a dump on lawns, smelling each other's butts... But usually they have a leash around their necks and are looked after by human owners. Now imagine thousands of abandoned dogs roaming through the desolate streets of Bucharest... not unlike the countless homeless kids and Gypsies, many of them with crooked or missing limbs. Then you've got a midget who sings in restaurants and sometimes gets paid to dance in night clubs wearing only diapers and smoking cigars. Sounds quirky and unusual and interesting, right?

Unfortunately, Canadian writer-director Thom Fitzerald felt we needed a way into this world, or maybe he just likes to see his doughy face on screen, in any case he cast himself as Geordie, a Canadian pornographer who comes to Eastern Europe to scout new talent. The logic is that "they'll sell their ass for a nickel", and he's determined to take advantage of it with the help of a swinger ambassador who likes whiskey with "just a hint of pussy". The porn angle could have added to the sense of desperation that inhabits the rest of the film, but it feels like an afterthought, an excuse to show naked boobies. At some point Fitzerald toys with darker material by having his character photograph a nude little girl, but it quickly cuts to him crying in the shower and that's that. He's a nice pornographer after all, yada yada yada.

There was potential for something fascinating here, maybe a documentary about the crippled Gypsies and stray dogs of Bucharest. That would have been more involving than using them as plot devices for a dull Canadian pornographer to redeem himself. "The Wild Dogs" is not all bad (hey, it's got dogs and a midget), but while Fitzerald's got a good eye for capturing a sense of a time and a place, he's not much of an actor and his writing is uninspired.