DOGS DON’T WEAR PANTS / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: J.-P. VALKEAPÄÄ / SCREENPLAY: JUHANA LUMME, J.P. VALKEAPÄÄ / STARRING: PEKKA STRANG, KRISTA KOSONEN, ILONA HUHTA / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Even though the title hints at a zany animated flick à la Secret Life of Pets, Dogs Don’t Wear Pants is anything but. In fact, it’s a love story… rooted in S&M underground market.
Following the death of his wife in a freak accident, Juha (Strang, Tom of Finland) becomes adrift. Feeling partially responsible for his spouse’s drowning, the otherwise successful cardiologist can’t move past the mourning stage. By accident, Juha runs into a dominatrix and undergoes erotic asphyxiation (don’t you hate when that happens?). It’s the first moment of relief he has experienced in years and pursues it to unhealthy degree. A dog without pants is born. In turn, the dominant (Kosonen) falls for the forlorn submissive, unaware of Juha’s true (suicidal?) motives. A lonely physiotherapist by day, the dominatrix struggles to connect with others the way she bonds with the troubled cardiologist. It’s worth mentioning Juha has a teenage daughter he pays little attention to, in spite of the girl’s obvious concern for her unraveling dad. The scenario is so bizarre, it’s hard to look away.
Dogs Don’t Wear Pants couldn’t be any more Finnish if it were directed by Aki Kaurismaki; bone dry humor, laissez-faire attitudes, and free-range teenagers fill every frame. Even though the characters are not particularly forthcoming, at every corner we have clarity of the leads’ state of mind. Credit to director J.-P. Valkeapää for getting so much mileage from rather single-minded characters that barely speak.
The film flirts with body horror (Juha’s hands and neck endure serious punishment), but always returns to the boy-meets-girl blueprint. If nothing else, Dogs Don’t Wear Pants does a better job rendering the appeal of BDSM than all three 50 Shades movies combined. For starters, the leads resemble actual people.