Louis Theroux delves into the issues surrounding Los Angeles' stray dog population.

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Louis Theroux delves into the issues surrounding Los Angeles' stray dog population.

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23 March 2014 (UK)  »

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City of Dogs: Interesting but too much passive, wide-eyed observation about it
5 October 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

There is a very interesting and scathing film in here and in some ways it is a shame that it was Louis Theroux that was delivering it, because he isn't he person to do that. This film looks at the plight of abandoned dogs in the rundown areas of South Los Angeles, following those who catch them (professionally or in their own free time), those who try to rehabilitate them, and those who hold them until the time comes when they have to put them down to free up space. You have to not be watching to see the very stark difference between the different parts of the film; the areas of abandonment which turn these dogs into unloved and perhaps unlovable things, which attack out of fear rather than anger, are all in South LA where people are poor, non-white and desperate. By contrast those taking in the dogs to try to help them out are mostly white and wealthy – laughing off a damaged car interior which was the fault of a wilder dog (the woman in question bought a whole new Jaguar due to the damage).

There is something here about the presence of empathy, and the presence of need, but that the two only overlap when it comes to these dogs rather than anything else; but the film doesn't get to it. It is still of some interest as we follow various trainers, rehabilitation activists, get a bit tearful ourselves over the animals and ultimately do experience some things we will never ourselves. Theroux stands alongside with his usual innocent-abroad look and style, but in this case it doesn't work so well since he is not trying to draw anything out so much as just watch it – I would have preferred more of an agenda or target to the content.

As it is, it is still interesting and will draw an emotional reaction from you, but it does feel too lacking in something other than this – some point, some conclusion, some edge.


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