WHITE GOD

★★★

Dir:Kornél Mundruczó (2015)

This wonderful Hungarian picture from Kornél Mundruczó mixes an Eastern European social realism with Homeward Bound to tell it’s tale of a young girl whose strict father exiles her beloved mixed breed pooch, Hagen; Left to fend for himself on the mean streets of Budapest, Mundruczó expertly parallels the dogs horrific journey with a desperate teenage lilli (Zsófia Psotta) and her authoritarian run ins. White God has a supreme fairy tale quality to it after a staggering opening scene but it’s real punch is in a cleverly handled sentimentality that sneaks up on you like a wise old wolf. 

Laden with American influence (including Hitchcock and remarkably Romero when White Dog finally bares it teeth) the film works both as a dark adventure, a parable for a debilitating government and a metaphor for over coming familial break ups. The film’s introductory quotation by RM Rilke could speak to any of its layered reflections: “Everything terrible is something that needs our love”. Mundruczó completely understands and lavishly pets his film into a controlled frenzy when Hagen is trained to fight in the city’s dog fighting racket and gets his first taste of the horror and greed of man.

The young Psotta and Sándor Zsótér who plays her cruel father are both fantastic; Psotta’s drive to find Hagen is used as a pin pulled on their relationship and she heads out on to the streets on her bike her triumphs and downfalls are crosscut with her four-legged friends. It’s a genre twisting film which starts off as a social drama, turns quickly into an almost Disney like animal tear jerker before its horror inspired werewolf transformation; It’s never forced or cumbersome in its satire, soppy or bludgeoning with it’s sentimentality or locked into to its parable. White God is a wonderful mongrel horror fairy tale.

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