28 April 2018 | rooprect
An otherwise decent, whimsical comedy is ruined by a very disturbing scene of a dog being abused and killed
Eldorado starts out as a quirky, low key comedy along the lines of Jim Jarmusch (Night on Earth, Down by Law). Perhaps slow and uneventful by some people's tastes, but pretty humorous if you let the absurdity soak in. The story is about a couple of unlikely travel buddies who embark on a cross-Belgian roadtrip, alternately showcasing the gorgeous countryside and the bizarre characters they encounter.
But as you can guess by my title, for me and I believe for most American audiences, the film was upstaged by an unsettling sideplot about a dog being brutally killed. After watching the movie, I immediately googled the director trying to figure out why he would include this terrible juxtaposition in an otherwise playful film. You're not going to like what I learned.
According to an interview, this director's hallmark is to use a dog in his films. In this case he decided to use a dead dog. It was not intended as a major plot point but merely to express the contradictions in humans. In the scene, one character says and does something absolutely vile, but (as the director says in the interview) we are supposed to excuse him because he later shows that he is just human because he had a dog once.
Um. No. Perhaps blame it on a trans-Atlantic difference in how we love our dogs, but most civilized Americans will not, under any circumstances, excuse or condone the idea of a dog being tied up, thrown over a bridge, and left to die whimpering.
That's what my title refers to. Immediately I was so sickened by that scene and the characters' blasé reactions, that I lost all respect and empathy for the lot of them. Ultimately, after watching an 85 minute film, I was left wondering why I should care about anyone in the story. Of course this was not the director's intent; I suppose we were supposed to take the jarring scene more in stride. If you're a dog lover, or even a casual fan of animals, I guarantee you'll be very put off by the unnecessary brutality of that scene. I sure hope they didn't use a real dog (though it looked like they did).