Hungarian writer/director Kornél Mundruczó earns credit just for letting unavoidable Holocaust & Roma allegorical chips fall where they may in this grim Girl and Her Mongrel Dog fable. It’s modern Budapest, and young Lili gets left with a father she barely knows when Mom leaves the country for a three month job. A clueless, forbidding parent, Dad barely takes in his daughter, but tosses her beloved mutt out. The rest of the film cuts between the girl’s late night hunts for her dog (when she’s not mooning over a slightly older boy in her school orchestra), and the dog’s increasingly desperate life as a canine tramp (food fights, dog pound, fight clubs) as the city authorities 'cleanse' the town of any 'impure' breeds. All brought to the screen by hundreds of real/non-CGI rescued animals (a mostly white little mixed pooch is an instant star) in action scenes that beggar belief at how they ever got done. (Fortunately, the violent fights are the least convincing with the dogs obviously tousling around enjoyably before scary growling & barks were dubbed on the soundtrack.) Eventually, the dogs have their day, annihilating the pound, its employees and taking back the streets. Even Lili may be in danger from her brutalized pet. And if it all doesn’t quite add up in the end, the action & sentiment more than compensate.
DOUBLE-BILL: Think 101 DALMATIANS/’61 meets CUJO/’83.