Citizen Dog (Thailand, director Wisit Sasanatieng): I’d heard some buzz around this film, that it was sort of a Thai Amelie. In fact, it’s Amelie cranked up to 11. Which is entirely too much. This film is absolutely overstuffed with whimsy. A narrator tells us the story of country boy Pod, who comes to Bangkok to find work and falls in love with Jin. Along the way, he loses and then finds his finger, drives around a chainsmoking talking teddy-bear as well as a man who licks everything, and shares his house with a gecko that has the face of his dead grandmother. If that’s not enough, the object of his desire is an obsessive neat freak who carries around a book written in Italian that she can’t read. A case of mistaken identity sends her off on an environmental crusade that results in her accumulating a mountain (literally, a mountain) of plastic water bottles. Will this pair find love in the end? Well, by the end, I didn’t care that much.
The problem was that the visual tricks and whimsy overwhelm the characters, who end up being nothing more than a collection of quirks. The constant voiceover also never really lets the characters tell their own stories, and the romance never feels believable.
Sasanatieng is obviously a director of huge talent, and there are quite a few great sight gags and some really original visuals. But there’s just far too much of it. It’s like eating a whole chocolate cake at one sitting. If he could tone down the trickery a bit, and find a story with real characters, he could one day make a really outstanding film. This isn’t it yet, but I hope he does it. I’m giving this 6.5, though my graphic below doesn’t show halves.