Dogman is a compelling movie about petty criminals, inspired by an infamous, true case. It was filmed in Villagio Coppola, a mostly abandoned seaside haven in Italy that peaked in popularity in the 1960's. The windswept, dilapidated town, with its community centre little more than a rusted playground, provides the perfect backdrop for Garrone's bleak tale about crime, drugs and its impact on the inhabitants. Marcello, the protagonist, is atypically nerdy and small in stature. Though long separated from his dismissive wife, he is still adored by his young daughter who he regularly dotes on with lavish holidays, funded not from his dog grooming business, but by dealing coke on the quiet to his 'friends' in the community.
One friend, Simone the antagonist, is a tough petty criminal, whose activities have become increasingly violent as a result of his coke addiction. Marcello has created a monster that he no longer can control, like the confronting pit bull dog shown in the film's opening scenes. In a sense, Garrone portrays both Simone and Marcello as canines, one a snarling attack dog, the other a subservient lapdog willing to be loyal to his abusive master. It is inevitable that Marcello's underlying sweet nature becomes irreversibly corrupted as he descends deeper into criminal activities and its world of ever increasing violence, mistrust, bitterness and revenge.
The extreme contrast between the mild protagonist and a dominating antagonist compelled me to see this movie. My new novel, Sentient, uses similar contrast. The protagonist, Dane, a human born on Mars is physically weak compared to Earth born humans, given he has grown up in Mars lower gravity. He ultimately must face an antagonist with fearful strength and superior intelligence, made possible from the technical wizardry available in the world of 2120. Earth and the colonies of the solar system are now inhabited by an equal mix of humans and 'post-humans'.
Where Dogman portrays men as no different from dogs and little more than pack animals scrapping over who should be leader, Sentient pits humans against technologically advanced and superior post-humans, with god-like capabilities. Built and programmed by humans, post-humans have learnt to treat sentients possessing lesser capabilities with a similar violent indifference that animals faced in a human dominated world.