Dog Days Review

Image for Dog Days

Set in Vienna during a hot summer's day, this follows a disparate group of people linked by a hitchhiker.


Life might be a waltz in Vienna, but it's pretty grim out in the Austrian suburbs. Sexual degradation and violence are the inevitable results as some of world cinema's most unattractive and impolite people cross paths.

This feature debut of renowned Austrian documentary filmmaker Ulrich Seidl traces a number of disparate tales of suburban life – all of which, to a greater or lesser degree, have an undercurrent of sexual humiliation or sadistic degradation. Linking these stories is a retarded female hitchhiker with penchants for jingles, top ten lists and brutally honest observation.

Seidl creates a clinical (often cynical) sense of detachment in this largely improvised work, peopled with non-professional actors. There's a detached, almost documentary feel to this film that's very apt, given the disconnection and lack of love between the characters. Dog Days observes, but doesn't condone, their behaviour. It cleverly evokes the loneliness of a community whose houses are effectively prisons, but a nasty subtext lingers beneath the surface drama. By erasing the boundaries between public and private, Seidl allows us a voyeuristic glimpse beneath the banality of suburbia.

An often languid pace and excessive running time partially undermines the intensity of the experience, but the film is stunning.