Dogman by Luc Besson

Luc Besson returns to one of his classic themes with Dogman. Caleb Landry Jones plays this new antihero avulsed from society.


France/USA 2023 Director Luc Besson Starring Caleb Landry-Jones, Christopher Denham, Marisa Berenson Runtime 114′ Distribution Lucky Red

Luc Besson is making his debut appearance at the Venice Film Festival, entering through the main entrance. “Dogman” is vying for the prestigious Golden Lion award, marking a significant achievement for the French director, screenwriter, and producer following a challenging period both personally and professionally. Besson’s most recent major success was “Lucy” in 2013, partly attributed to its star Scarlett Johansson. “Lucy” was followed by “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” an ambitious sci-fi film based on one of Besson’s favourite comic books. Despite its $177 million budget, the film only grossed $225 million worldwide, falling short of his expectations. “Anna“, his following project, had a more modest budget and was reminiscent of the structure that worked well in his earlier hit “Nikita.”

After distancing himself from EuropaCorp, the production company he founded to rival American studios, Besson has refocused on filmmaking as an auteur. The selection of “Dogman” by the committee and artistic director Alberto Barbera for the international competition at the 80th Venice Film Festival confirms this resurgence. The movie narrates the tale of a child subjected to severe abuse by his father, only to be rescued by the affection of his dogs. These loyal companions later become inseparable from him, driving a story of retribution. This theme refers to Besson’s past works like “Subway” and “Leon,” where enigmatic antiheroes with troubled pasts were central. In the case of the killer portrayed by Jean Reno, he was both infallible and deadly.

Taking on the titular role in “Dogman” is Caleb Landry Jones, a highly talented actor who has risen to international prominence in recent years. He has collaborated with esteemed directors such as Doug Liman (“American Made,” opposite Tom Cruise), Martin McDonagh (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri“), and Justin Kurzel. The latter directed him in “Nitram,” a performance that earned Jones the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2021. The cast of “Dogman” also features Marisa Berenson, once the muse of Stanley Kubrick in “Barry Lyndon.”

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