Taken as a lesson on the destructive nature of such relationships it works pretty well in a grim way
I've watched a lot of coming-of-age stories of late for some reason and in this one the tone is a darker one as we see a boy transition into adulthood by finally being forced to stand up to his father's abusive relationship with his mother. In and of itself, this is a fine theme but it is a troubled and troubling film in the way it does it because essentially the violence from the father is addressed by just more cruelty and violence in a way that both resolves it but also continues it. In particular the violent act is the killing of a small Labrador puppy prized by the father. The son confronts the father with a thread to the dog and, when the father does not back down, he dumps in the dog into a drum fire and triggering greater violence.
It is a rather dramatic device and it is one which I really hope is making the point about the cycle of violence created by abusive relationships – that they teach patterns of resolution and confrontation and are therefore repeating and cyclical in nature. At least I hope this is the point otherwise it is unnecessary in its plot device and really smacks of bad taste. I choose to follow the film in this way and assume it is the point it is making since the film is very bleakly and deliberately made. It is perhaps too bleak at times and it has a very slow pace that I suppose is meant to compliment the seriousness of it all but really rather just makes the film drag a little in contrast to the payoff.
It is a tough watch and the point is not as clear as it could have been, but if you take it as a lesson on the destructive nature of such relationships on everyone involved then it works pretty well in a grim way.
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