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  Dogs Don't Wear Pants Angling For A Strangling
Year: 2019
Director: J.-P. Valkeapää
Stars: Pekka Strang, Krista Kosonen, Ilona Huhta, Jani Volanen, Oona Airola, Iiris Anttila, Ester Geislerová, Ellen Karppo, Armands Reinis, Samuel Shipway, Sofia Kaipainen, Viivi Ihalainen
Genre: Horror, Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Heart surgeon Juha (Pekka Strang) has been adrift since a tragedy in his past, and although it happened some years before, the trauma has never left him, to the extent he is growing worse from the pressure of all that time. The incident that triggered this occurred when he was on holiday with his wife and daughter by the sea, and his wife accidentally became tangled in a fisherman's net when she went for a swim. Alerted by the little girl's crying, he ran and dived in to save her, but it was too late, and he nearly died himself when he too was caught in the net. This has left him with mixed feelings and a disturbed sexuality that he is trying to exorcise through smothering his face...

That's smothering his face in his wife's old clothes and her perfume, which should give you some idea that poor old Juha really needs someone to talk to, to work out these issues, or at least someone who can accommodate his fantasies. It was that latter that writer and director J.-P. Valkeapää examined here, creating a drama that came across like an instalment of the Saw series only applied to something far more psychological and finally, positive, though it was a long and twisting road to reach what may not be a completely happy denouement, but did offer a lifeline to the protagonist. Yet there was something incredibly self-indulgent about the manner of this.

Basically, by being suffocated in a sexual bondage situation, Juha can both relive his terrible loss and find a release, however briefly, for his horrendous anxieties. If the point was that a mental illness can render the sufferer horribly self-centred with nothing they can do to prevent those obsessional impulses, then Dogs Don't Wear Pants made that point with an almost brutal lack of sentimentality - actually, there was no almost about it, it's a weird running joke that Juha grows increasingly injured as the story progresses, all thanks to his pursuit of happiness through sexual abuse. Sexual abuse of himself, that was, as if that was perfectly fine, but his dominatrix is beginning to worry for herself.

She was Mona (Krista Kosonen) who we don't delve into psychologically half as much as we did her client, leaving her something of an enigma: what is she getting out of this? As her day job is a physiotherapist, you imagine she gains satisfaction from making patients hurt to make them better, but this was a rather facile bit of explaining why she would take up her evening job, and it's a bit of a mystery whether she is gaining sexual satisfaction from this arrangement as well. Indeed, the film posits this as a budding romance, which seemed a very reductive interpretation, even conventional in a way its trappings were reluctant to portray: wouldn't the theme be more that romance and sex were separate for this kind of BDSM relationship, the complicated pursuit of the perfect orgasm involved overriding any twee affection?

This was better than the British try at exploring this scene, Preaching to the Perverted, though that was a cult flick too, but there was a lot here that tipped over into horror movies rather than kink, with the suspicion Juha is wanting the sweet release of death the further he goes into realising his strangulation fantasies. Pulling off a thumbnail, extracting a tooth for the pleasure/pain, by the conclusion you half expect him to have persuaded Mona to saw his leg off or something, and you can envisage many viewers finding the film disturbing and even vomit-making, despite its pretensions to mental health investigation. You were more likely to feel pity for Juha than happiness that he was coping in an extreme fashion, and even more pity for his teenage daughter (Ilona Huhta) who has to put up with her remaining parent being totally messed up. Some find this close to comedy in patches, but if you ever felt concern for others' mental wellbeing, chances were you probably wouldn't be laughing too much.

Aka: Koirat eivät käytä housuja
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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