Dogs Don't Wear Pants

***1/2

Reviewed by: Tony Sullivan

Dogs Don't Wear Pants
"Dogs Don’t Wear Pants ultimately relishes its uncomfortable themes buoyed by a little humour and hopes of a life happy ever after for our two damaged human beings" | Photo: Helsinki Filmi

Juha, a grieving father, struggles to connect to his growing daughter after his wife accidentally drowns and he himself almost dies trying to save her. At least this is what the first 15 minutes or so is about, then we take a sudden left turn into what Monty Python would describe as "something completely different". I’d love not to tell you what that left turn entails so that it hits you as it did me as quite unexpected. But by the laws of film review I must give you the spoiler so as to alert you to what you (and the father) are getting into.

As his daughter turns 16, our hero has a chance encounter with Mona, a dominatrix and the experience reconnects him to the trauma of the accident. He wants more.

Copy picture

What follows concerns Juha’s increasing addiction to masochist sensation while juggling his professional standing as a heart surgeon and his daughter’s dismay.

A long time has passed since Malcolm Muggeridge denounced our “Gadarene slide into decadence and Godlessness” in the 70s but porn has had its ups and downs. The Brits have always enjoyed their tickle with a little slap, but nobody got hurt and cinematically that was true until Barbet Schroeder’s Maîtresse showed up in 1975, with its eyepopping, BBFC upsetting, BDSM moments. Thankfully, the late great Terry Jones brought us down to earth with Personal Services and made it all mundane and terribly British again. Judging by a recent episode of Inside No. 9, as a nation we have progressed little. As journalist Georges Mikes noted: “England may be a copulating country, but it is not an erotic country”.

Fortunately, we have the rest of Europe to help us out. While normally the task of the French or the Swedes on this occasion the job falls to Finland.

Pekka Strang as Juha, something of a fusion of Max von Sydow and Stephen Merchant, is one of those actors whose mere presence gives conviction to whatever is going on, thus preventing the possibility of schoolboy titters. He sells us the grief and addiction his character experiences.

The acting honours, though, go to Krista Kosonen as Mona. In a very tricky role that also demands total sincerity, she manages to imply in her relatively short scenes that her story might just be more interesting and tormented than that of the protagonist.

If you are looking for titillation of an extreme nature, then you are better off with your xxx-rated website of choice. But one can’t deny the erotic allure of Mona, leather clad, that is going to make me wonder if all the Marvel Universe characters operate BDSM dungeons in their off-superhero hours.

Dogs Don’t Wear Pants ultimately relishes its uncomfortable themes buoyed by a little humour and hopes of a life happy ever after for our two damaged human beings. Pretty Woman once asked: “So what happens after he climbs up and rescues her?”, here the answer might be “She punishes him right back”.

Reviewed on: 23 Mar 2020
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A widower is struggling years after his wife drowned... meeting Mona, a dominatrix, changes everything.


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