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Down Dog Review

Down Dog Review

down-dog-posterGenre: Comedy

Directed by: Andres Dussan

Starring: Jason Durr, Nick Moran, Orla O’Rourke

A belated coming of age tale, Down Dog is the story of a man approaching middle age who is forced to grow up when faced with his own looming mortality. Very much in keeping with the theme of writer Simon Nye’s earlier TV series Men Behaving Badly, Down Dog will appeal to the exact same audience.

Frank is a divorced, sex-addicted alcoholic who barely knows his son, and his ex-wife, Rachel, is tired of his shenanigans. After hearing about how a friend’s husband straightened his life out after finding out about a tumour, Rachel convinces Frank’s doctor to tell him that he’s dying. Frank’s world is flipped on its head as he tries to cope with the idea that he has less than a year to live.

Down Dog’s humour and gags all follow a well-trodden route, but fans of Simon Nye’s ‘lad’ style comedy will love it. What’s more, the two supporting roles are well cast and nicely acted; Orla O’Rourke, (Calvary) has a face that’s lovely to watch and she has a good enough range to play the three-in-one roles asked of her to great effect. She manages to cleverly pull off the illusion that they’re all different women, even though they’re all meant to be different facets of Frank’s wife, who he’s still hopelessly in love with. Nick Moran is pithy and amusing in his role as the misogynist entrepreneur, but it’s a part that could’ve been developed even further.

The plot isn’t the most original, but where Down Dog excels is in its portrayal of relationships. While Frank has a handful of complex relationships with his lady friends and his boss, the film’s core comes from the dynamic between Frank and his son. Jason Durr captures the roller coaster of emotion that his character Frank goes through on his journey of finally growing up; he makes the transition from irresponsible man-child to actual adult a surprisingly touching one, and it’s rewarding when he eventually reconnects with his son and ex-wife. The film doesn’t dare to delve much deeper than its middle of the road morality and middle class sentiments, but as the story unfolds, the characters are strong enough to pull us into their world and make us care about their problems.

Andres Dussan’s direction doesn’t exactly break the mould, leaving the film feeling a little laboured. Shaking up the camera work and adding in a less generic soundtrack might have given Down Dog a more modern edge, rather than the nineties/noughties feeling that plagues it throughout. Despite these minor quibbles, Down Dog is a solid and at times funny dissection of a midlife crisis. It’s a safe date movie and a good British alternative to Fifty Shades this Valentine’s Day.

★★★

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