Smuggling has existed for as long as anyone has tried to regulate trade or travel. Traditionally it has been a way for self-styled entrepreneurs to avoid paying tax or customs fees on commodities and luxuries, but it covers a whole manner of illicit activities. People trafficking has become increasingly prevalent nowadays but dates back to the days of slavery. One of the most common is narcotics, transported across frontiers. In Dogs, a man finds his newly obtained land is being used illegally.
After the death of his grandfather, known locally as Uncle Alecu, Roman (Dragoș Bucur) leaves Bucharest and travels to the countryside, near the border with Ukraine. He has been bequeathed a huge parcel of land, but has no intention whatsoever of leaving the city behind and living in the middle of nowhere. Roman decides to sell straight away but finds himself with an unexpected problem. His land is being used by a criminal gang, lead by the violent Samir (Vlad Ivanov), who have other ideas.
Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize in the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes, Dogs is a powerful crime drama which throws a fish out of water into the wild west. The starkness and perils of the wastelands are brought to life by Andrei Butica’s sumptuous cinematography. Bogdan Mirica’s film emphasises the danger and lawlessness of these border regions. Dogs is a small but telling piece of intricate filmmaking.
Dogs is out in US cinemas on 10 September.