Moon Dogs (2016) – Film Review
Director: Philip John
Cast: Jack Parry Jones, Tara Lee, Christy O’Donnell
by Rebecca Hitchon
When I saw the synopsis of this film, I was more than a little confused: “An anarchic, funny, sexy coming-of-age movie, following two teenage step brothers on a road trip across Scotland and the enigmatic girl who comes between them.”
It sounded like your regular Bridget Jones’s Diary love triangle romantic comedy. So why, then, had it won a host of film festival awards in Scotland, not to mention been nominated for the Scottish Bafta for Best Film 2016?
“Charm and sincerity”
Despite the enormous praise that the film has already received, I was not expecting such an emotive storyline. It intertwines subtle comedy with a soundtrack of traditional Scottish and modern dance music – all inside the glorious backdrop of rural Scotland.
The themes need to be treated with a little irony, unless potential audiences feel they are stumbling on one of the most miserable films ever: dysfunctional family relationships and a broken romance dominate the narrative, but as the film progresses there are heart-warming new relationships and repairing of old ones.
There are moments of weirdness and confusion. One scene where a male protagonist is hallucinating is deliberately off-kilter, but still retains a charm and sincerity. Indeed, charm is key to the film: you might not think you’re going to like it but by the time the credits roll, you realise how much you’ve been drawn in and are attached to the characters.
“Refreshing portrayal of teenagers”
Author Irvine Welsh has said that “not one, not two but three stars are born in this beautiful movie” – and I couldn’t agree more. It’s refreshing to see a portrayal of teenagers different to what is shown on the television or in the news. Yes, characters Michael (Jack Parry Jones), Thor (Christy O’Donnell) and Caitlin (Tara Lee) may sometimes be moody and embarrassed by their parents, but a younger audience, including myself, can generally relate to them as they struggle emotionally and learn about life but, most importantly, themselves.
The only character I found it difficult to relate to was Caitlin: a complex girl that is both protagonists’ feisty, rebellious and eccentric love interest and she constantly switches between the two. Nonetheless, it does feel as though you get to know the characters like you know a friend and, similar to the journey of becoming friends with someone, drama or shocking action isn’t around every turn of the road.
If you go into this film expecting a huge-budget blockbuster movie that is produced to blow your socks off, then you’re almost certainly setting yourself up for a disappointment. Moon Dogs is a human story of adventure and learning – and it slyly captures your heart when you least expect it.