Movie review: Powerful "White God" more than a dog story

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Apparently Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó never heard the famous W.C. Fields quote “Never work with animals or children.”

Mundruczó’s “White God” not only features a young actress in the lead role, it also has dogs. Like 200 dogs. Set loose on the streets of Budapest.

The shot you see below is from the indelible opening of “White God,” and it’s one of many things about the movie that is unforgettable.

Lili (Zsófia Psotta) is a young girl staying with her father while her mother travels. Lili also brings her dog, Hagen. When her angry father kicks the dog out, the separation kicks off an odyssey.

“White God” is essential viewing, but it’s also not for everyone. The emotional punch of what will be seen will definitely hit dog lovers hardest, but there’s a lot more at play here.

What seems like a sweeping tale of a dog trying to reunite with its owner becomes something much darker as a larger metaphor about oppression and uprising takes hold. As this all comes into focus in the final act, the memories of that cute dog movie seem distant.

Speaking of those dogs, the mostly untrained cast was made up entirely of rescue animals, which is a pretty lovely gesture. Although, again, dog lovers be forewarned, some of this is tough to watch.

Still this is such an emotionally visceral, visually amazing movie with an underpinned social commentary that hits like a brick. See it.

Magnolia Pictures photo

"White God"

Opens Friday

3 1/2 stars out of 4