Straw Dogs (2011) - Blu-ray Review

'Like Peckinpah's original, there are interesting ideas in this, but like the original there is an almost masochistic desire for awkwardness and a The Sun-like trolling of people who hold ideas like equality dear'

The hugely problematic original Straw Dogs is just that not only because of its well documented misogyny but also because Sam Peckinpah's very muddy direction and storytelling often make it a difficult film to engage with properly. That problem is at least solved by Rod Lurie's 2011 remake, which paints the story in much clearer colours and is all the better for it.

Like Peckinpah's original, there are interesting ideas in this, but like the original there is an almost masochistic desire for awkwardness and a The Sun-like trolling of people who hold ideas like equality dear. Lurie brings new things to the table but misguidedly, resolutely, seems to believe that to tell this story he has to stick with the controversial misogynist elements. Yes, the dubious rape scene is here (and it is still dubious) and yes, the scene before that of Amy (Kate Bosworth) 'teasing' the workers features too. Both could be eliminated without harming the core story.

Of the new elements that Lurie brings is a heightened sense that David (James Marsden) is less targeted because he is an outsider and more because he is a member of a different level of society than Amy's childhood friends. David's response, to almost everything, is to throw money at it; drinks in the bar, a contract for Charlie (Alexander SkarsgÄrd), paying a man to change his tyre. That scene, minor though it is, might sum up many of the film's ideas; 'I'll show you how to change a tyre one day', the mechanic says, but David is disinterested; he is a payer, rather than a doer and for that reason, until the finale, the film devalues him.

Lurie's significant success is to widen out the David approach to society at large. Tom (James Woods) the ex-football coach and bar drunk, throws money at things to make them go away, a newspaper headline briefly discussed by David suggests the world at large is doing the same. It's effectively considered and interesting stuff.

On the negative side, Lurie disregards the sexual offender (Dominic Purcell) story to the point where Purcell's character becomes a bit of a parody and there's limited build up of Tom and Charlie's gang as villains, which makes element of the end difficult to believe and Charlie's ambiguity (which is there) a little less skilfully portrayed than it needs to be. Even without those though, this is a good attempt at a story that does have serious and significant elements to it. In another 40 years, perhaps someone will finally make it without the misogyny.





By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

No comments:

Post a comment