Stray Dogs Review

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Two orphaned children growing up in post-Taliban Kabul find and keep a stray canine, whilst trying to keep themselves alive.


Sentimentality was always a key component of Italian neo-realism. So we shouldn’t really complain about the occasional mawkishness or contrivance in this translation of Bicycle Thieves to post-Taliban Kabul. Indeed, director Marziyeh Meshkini could validly argue that kids used to repression, poverty and everyday violence would not only invest undue affection in a rescued terrier, but also employ the most naive tactics to alleviate their distress.

The manner in which Zahed and the naturally expressive Gol-Ghotai are forced to scavenge to survive is heart-rending. But even more dispiriting is the patent message that nothing is going to improve any time soon in a society still riven by old prejudices and resentments.

Some may consider this a touch too sentimental, but if you appreciate Italian neo-realism, you’ll find it charming and moving.