DOG SWEAT Movie Review (LA Film Fest)
DOG SWEAT takes place in present day Iran where we follow the lives of six different characters. We first meet Massoud and his two friends who love to drink and party. However things start to change for him when his mother gets hit by a car and is in critical condition. Massoud, now faced with real life and away from drinking, lets out his real rage against the society he lives in. Massoud goes on an interesting journey and by the end of the film he is definitely not the same character we met when the film opens.
Then we meet Mahsa, a young woman who dreams of being a singer, but because female vocalists are banned in Iran, she cannot share her passion with anyone and has to hide when recording a song. To make matters worse, Mahsa lives with her mom Forough, whose goal is to get her daughter to marry a rich man. Throughout the film, Mahsa has to decide on how much she is willing to fight for her passion or whether she should just give in to societal pressures. Her story also ends up being intertwined with another character in the film in quite an unexpected and interesting way.
In the film, we also meet gay couple Homan and Hooshang. The interesting about these two characters is that it is never clearly stated that they are gay, but it is insinuated. The two of them come from very different places, Hooshang is a rich kid while Homan comes from the wrong part of town, yet they are inseparable. Unfortunately, things are about to change when Homan’s parents set him up with a woman to marry. He now must now decide whether continue living as he does or hide who he is by getting married.
Finally, we meet siblings Katie and Dawood, and Katie’s friend Katherine. Dawood has just come back to Tehran after studying in America for a few years. The family is beyond ecstatic about his return and put all their attention on him to Katie’s resentment. Katie is a pretty young woman torn by the society she lives in and its view of women. She could have her pick of men, but she has settled on having an affair with the husband of her cousin. Her journey throughout the film reflects a lot of the inequalities between how men and women are treated. As for Katie’s friend Katherine, she finds herself attracted to Dawood and the two of them start a relationship that they decide to take to the next level. But it’s not easy to find a place to be alone, especially when hotels are only for married couples and neighbors are nosy.
Dog Sweat definitely takes a look at Iran’s society and points out some of his flaws without making it seem like the worse place on Earth to be. The filmmakers are able to show us regular people with regular problems and how they deal with them. I found myself connecting with a couple of characters and their struggles. However because they are so many characters and stories to cover, I felt that some of them weren’t explored as deeply as I would have liked to. Still, I can appreciate what the filmmaker was trying to achieve and I enjoyed going on a journey with these characters in present Iran.
An interesting thing I also wanted to mention about the film is that you never see any of the characters kiss or show any extensive kinds of affection. Furthermore, nothing is ever spelled out clearly, everything is insinuated, which definitely gives a sense of the challenge in getting the movie made and I am guessing making sure it is seen in Iran.
There were also some sound issues during the movie, which I am not sure whether were due to the copy being played or are in the film, that were a little bit distracting but didn’t take too much away from the enjoyment of the film.
Overall, it’s an interesting film to see. I wouldn’t necessarily say that this is a movie that I loved, but as a movie lover, I enjoy watching all types of films and Dog Sweat is a film that I am happy I got to see.
And if this sounds like a film you would like to see as well, you will have the opportunity to catch Dog Sweat during the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival. It will have screenings on Saturday Jun 19th at 10:15pm, on Sunday Jun 20th at 4:45pm, and Thursday Jun 24th at 5:00pm. You can buy tickets on the official 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival website.