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Sleeping Dogs


Stars: Melinda Page Hamilton, Bryce Johnson, Geoffrey Pierson, Bonita Friedericy, Colby French, Jack Plotnick

Director: Bobcat Goldthwaite

This is strictly for adults since, while technically it probably qualifies as a romcom cum black comedy-drama, the ‘McGuffin’ on which the story hinges is, not to mince words, bestiality. (To put your mind at ease, bestiality is referred to but, happily, never shown).

Startling? Yes. Shocking? Certainly. Gratuitous and exploitative? Surprisingly, no, thanks to Goldthwaite’s dry, sharply characterised screenplay which finds teacher Hamilton being persuaded by fiance Johnson to reveal her darkest secret, an admission that understandably sends their relationship crashing to the ground. You can see how this one of a kind offering made critical waves at the Toronto, Sundance and London film festivals. Surprisingly, perhaps, it emerges as an offbeat but thoroughly watchable piece of work that, despite its dramatic catalyst, is never prurient or unpleasant. Watching Hamilton emerging from her traumatic experience and unexpectedly finding a new lover makes fascinating viewing.

Goldthwaite, best known as a comedian, notably in the Police Academy farces, tells his story directly without auteur-style flourishes, relying instead on dialogue and story and his actors to carry it. Which they do, notably Hamilton (definitely a talent to look out for in the future), Johnson and Pierson and Bonita Friedericy as Hamilton’s parents.

Alan Frank

USA 2006. UK Distributor: Tartan. Colour.
89 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 19 Mar 2007