Lek And The Dogs

****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Lek And The Dogs
"Kötting's real skill comes in the marrying together of images with Lek's memories, pushing at ideas of desolation, anxiety and trauma that take us into emotional territory that mere words cannot."

Andrew Kötting's latest experimental work feels less like running your eyes and mind over a story than having them strafed by the piercing shrapnel of fragmented memories. Everything is distortion, from found footage images, to a soundtrack that is sometimes industrial, sometimes snatches of music and sometimes little more than what sounds like the echo of footsteps hellbent on escape. Even the subtitles have slipped into uneven and irregular chaos.

This is a heady collage - some might say onslaught - of found footage, home video and close-ups of the adult Lek (Xavier Tchili) as he anxiously recalls the trauma of a childhood marked by abuse that led him to flee his family home and find refuge with a pack of dogs. His narrative is peppered with the voices of others - psychologists and a "wizard and eternalist" (Alan Moore).

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Adapted from Hattie Naylor's stage play Ivan And The Dogs, and co-scripted by her, the film is opened out by the footage, although there is more than a nod to Krapp's Last Tape - and I found myself rather hoping Kötting might be persuaded to have a go at a version of Samuel Beckett's only movie venture Film. Most obviously, Beckett's play is recalled by the way Lek - whose age is revealed to be, at 49, exactly two decades younger than Krapp - is seen listening to cassette tape of his recorded self (voiced by Clay Barnard).

But though there are tales that touch on similar memories to Krapp of love and loss and companionship and regret, Kötting's enterprise is altogether less mordantly funny and more bleakly fatalistic than Beckett, as his 'eternalist' argues that everything is pre-ordained. Kötting's real skill comes in the marrying together of images with Lek's memories, pushing at ideas of desolation, anxiety and trauma that take us into emotional territory that mere words cannot. Loss is evoked by empty supermarket shelves, suffering underlined by industrial hellscapes, while Lek's wanderings, sometimes on all fours, over a blasted landscape, add further focus to his fragile mental state. This exercise is dislocation and past repeated won't be for everyone but if you like the feeling of a film that echoes in your head while rumbling on in your gut, then it's well worth a look.

Reviewed on: 07 Jun 2018
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Lek And The Dogs packshot
A man who lived with a pack of dogs as a child recalls his past.

Director: Andrew Kötting

Writer: Hattie Naylor, Andrew Kotting

Starring: Xavier Tchili, Clay Barnard

Year: 2017

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

Festivals:

London 2017

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