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Posted On: 24 February 2017 10:13 am
Updated On: 11 January 2022 08:32 am

Qumra: Dogs (Câini)

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Young Roman gets a whole lot more than he bargained for when he inherits a large tract of land on the Romanian border with Ukraine from his late grandfather. His hopes that the sale of the property, for which as a city-dweller he has no particular use, will be a painless transaction are dashed soon after he arrives at the house and meets Granddad’s associates, who - very firmly and with more than a little menace – advise him not to sell.

So begins Bogdan Florian Mirică’s deftly constructed thriller, which hovers somewhere in the space between the wide open frontier of a classic Western and the claustrophobic living spaces that often characterise the films of the recent Romanian New Wave. As Roman’s tale progresses and he comes to uncover both the shady past dealings that have taken place here and how the local thugs are involved, things start to add up and the sinister threat of extreme violence becomes palpable.

Much of Romanian cinema over the past few decades has been a consistently clear-eyed examination – and often an insightful critique – of the social and political climate in that country in the years since the violent overthrow of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s harsh regime. With ‘Dogs’, Mirică continues this project, on the one hand exposing a form of corruption that flourished under the communists, and on the other musing on how and why that same corruption continues in a country that on paper has abolished the tyranny of authoritarian rule.