Dogs Don't Wear Pants (2020)

Dogs Don't Wear Pants.jpg
Director: Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää
Runtime: 104 Minutes
Rating: 18
Starring: Pekka Strang, Krista Kosonen, Ilona Huhta, Ester Geislerová, Jani Volanen, Oona Airola

Seven years after his wife drowned, widower Juha (Pekka Strang) is left alone to raise his daughter, Elli (Ilona Huhta). He finds himself to be emotionally distant, but through a chance encounter with a Dominatrix named Mona (Krista Kosonen), he catches glimpses of his late wife. For the first time in ages, he actually feels something, and enters the world of BDSM, no matter how much it threatens to undo his everyday life.

As the film opens up, we see the happiness evident across the face of our lead, Juha. He's enjoying life with his nearest and dearest, but once tragedy strikes, such joy will feel like a stranger. Pekka Strang captures how disconnected Juha is feeling with life, going through the motions in his own numb way. But when he stumbles onto something entirely new to him, which reignites that bright spark within him, it's easy to believe the profound impact it's had upon his life, and how it transforms into an unhealthy obsession, at the cost of everything else. Strang does wonderfully in conveying each aspect of his characters life, be it on his own, or when he shares such captivating chemistry with his co-star, Kristsa Kosonen. As their characters go on this journey together, it's easy to believe in each turn their story takes.

Speaking of which, this is far from a one-man show, as Kosonen inhabits the role of Mona exceptionally. Thankfully, her role is more than just a plot device to help our lead feel emotions, or a gateway for viewers into this depiction of BDSM. Mona is uninterested with what's considered everyday and normal, and feels in her element doing the opposite thing. When her colleague strikes up a conversation, in regards to how nice an ordinary job would be, Mona replies "Darling, I don't like ordinary stuff", and that simple exchange gets to the heart of this character so very well.

If you expected the BDSM element to be tantalisation in the vein of the Fifty Shades series, then this may not be what you're looking for. While sharing screenwriting duties with Juhana Lumme, director Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää has crafted a fascinating exploration of grief and loss, told in ways that are engrossing, and rather bittersweet. It's a tale that's wonderfully brought alive thanks to all involved, and this especially includes Pietari Peltola's glorious cinematography. If you fancy seeing an approach to grief which feels so unique, this Finnish film may be right up your alley.

Dogs Don't Wear Pants is available to rent on VOD