The Japanese Dog Screen 7 articles

The Japanese Dog

2013

The Japanese Dog Poster
  • Perhaps Jurgiu is consciously positioning The Japanese Dog as an antithesis to the kinds of films audiences are used to seeing from Romania, many of which seem to take place in dark and forbidding environments in which the people inhabiting it have been made indifferent to human life by the country's communist legacy. But this pleasantly well-meaning film is too shallow, pat, and frustratingly opaque to make for an especially resonant alternative.

  • Combined with the paucity of close-ups and low lighting (Costache has been living by candlelight since the flood) that make it impossible most of the time to see Costache’s face, the movie’s long silences leave us to guess at what Costache is thinking or feeling. And so, when he picks up his suitcase and gets into a cab at the end, I didn’t know whether he was just visiting his son or leaving home to move in with him—and I didn’t much care.

  • [The Japanese Dog] is a beautiful, fragile look at familial relations and the difficult process of moving on in the face of tragedy. Jurgiu’s style, less formally rigid than typical Romanian fare but no less composed and patiently processed, owes a debt to Ozu—the director’s noted influence—as do his themes of generational discord and stoic resolve.

  • ...Moments like this make The Japanese Dog more Ozu-like than the saturnine fare one often expects from Romanian cinema; if there’s a political dimension, it’s certainly muted. But formalistically it’s true of its type, with wide angle shots and dim lighting that preclude revealing close-ups. Rebenguic finds opportunities to let us into Costache’s private world...

  • Director Tudor Cristian Jurgiu demonstrates the same exacting sense of time and space as Puiu, Porumboiu, et al, and the rigorous style ameliorates the sentimentality of the script, which has the man's estranged son returning home after more than a decade in Japan.

  • While it lacks the richness of some of Ozu’s masterworks, “The Japanese Dog” steers clear of sentimentality — an impressive feat, given that the title somewhat preciously refers to a toy dog. The movie depicts a hopeful side of Romania, peeking through even Costache’s lonely world.

  • With his patient observations of smalltown life and the social dynamic of its denizens, Jurgiu seems to be channeling the films of Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu. The influence seems especially pronounced when the plot brings the man’s son back from Asia with a Japanese wife and their son for a visit. This is a gentle, immensely pleasurable film that channels the spirit of another culture’s classic cinema to tell a story of how its own people face irreversible social changes.

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