Los Reyes


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Los Reyes
"It's the sort of film that humans and dogs can watch together, appreciating many of the same things." | Photo: Courtesy of Doc/Fest

What does home mean to you? For most people it's a house of some kind, or a room, with walls and ceiling providing shelter from the elements. For others, it's an outdoor space, either because that's all they have or because that's the place where they feel secure and able to be themselves. Los Reyes skate park in Santiago is home to a cluster of youths who come and go by day and night, as well as the two dogs, Chola and Futbol, who are in effect part of their pack.

That Chola and Futbol have lived in more conventional homes before is immediately apparent. There's nothing feral about them. They're completely at ease with their human friends, though there's no master and pet relationship there and they're only occasionally provided for - rather, the friendship is one of equals. The boys skate and talk, lounge around in the sun, shelter in shaded areas and arrange drug deals. The dogs play with balls and carry things around - Futbol even has a piece of broken paving stone as a toy - and try to pant away the heat and scavenge for food. There's a curious mixture of languor and strain about each of these intermingled lives. Age is catching up with the dogs. Sooner or later, luck may run out for the boys. Within the group, though, there is laughter and hugging and wagging of tails.

Copy picture

An extraordinarily intimate film made more so by the lack of any framing narrative or structured dialogue, Los Reyes is all about observation. It's the sort of film that humans and dogs can watch together, appreciating many of the same things. There's a universal language to life on the borders of formal society, a simple, animal logic to the business of surviving day to day and taking pleasure in small things. No speech is needed to communicate the annoyance created by buzzing flies, the oppressive heat of the noonday sun or the joy of catching up with a friend. At times we see some posturing for position within the group but what really matters is the group itself.

Gently paced and framed in a skilful yet unobtrusive way, this film has something of the hypnotic power of a hot day when there's nothing in particular to do. It's surprisingly compelling viewing. In the absence of distractions, one finds oneself looking more closely at details that might have seemed unimportant. Somewhere in there is the real stuff of life.

Reviewed on: 08 Dec 2019
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Los Reyes packshot
Documentary capturing the microcosm that surrounds a couple of street dogs that live in a skatepark.

Director: Iván Osnovikoff, Bettina Perut

Year: 2018

Runtime: 78 minutes

Country: Chile, Germany


Doc/Fest 2019

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