Film Review: Dogs Don’t Wear Pants

The Fetish Lady And The Trampled

The ever expanding roster of Anti-Worlds releases in the UK is of such a continuing high, but beautifully idiosyncratic quality, that to be honest, any time they are behind something, you know you are going to have a memorable experience not only in cinematic storytelling, but in your perceptions of preconceived boundaries, which can’t be said for a great deal of vanilla titles these days.

The latest release by these bastions of strange, is completely on point with their remit of the quirky and off kilter, all incredibly beautifully rendered and told by Finnish director J-P Valkeapää. 

‘Dogs Don’t Wear Pants’ (2019) may sound like a peculiar statement of fact, indeed it is, but it’s reference point is a moment in the movie where an individual is having a somewhat Saul moment in his life, but instead of the Damascus, we are all on The Road to Dominatrix.

Juha (Pekka Strang) is a heart surgeon who is used to saving lives, to be able to bring back folk from the brink or abyss of death, “I know how the heart works”. He has been doing it for years and is very good at it. Despite having all this power in his knowledge and hands, he was still unable even with his skill levels to avert a tragedy that left him and his young daughter without his wife, and her mum.

Years have passed, and the grief has been slightly suppressed in the monotony of daily life.  They are going through the motions, but never really feeling it.

That is until as a birthday present, his daughter Elli (Ilona Huhta ) decides that she would like her tongue pierced. The incredibly strait-laced academic Juha is so wonderfully and comically out of sorts in this body modification environment, that he asked to leave the daughter and technician alone for the procedure.

Juha goes for a wander into the darkness, and in doing so effectively opens a door (well more rubber curtain) into a whole new safety word world of BDSM, and tangible pain, that not only makes him feel closer to his departed wife, but also, an apparent death wish, all of which makes him feel more alive than he has in years.

The catalyst for these experiences is the dominatrix herself, Mona (Krista Kosonen), who doesn’t break role, and unbeknownst initiates the hapless Juha into the fold.

The engagements initially bring a solace, but swiftly escalate into much much darker, and at times brutally unsettling experiences. Juha desperately searches for answers literally through the experiences of pain, it’s a sort of all consuming therapy by punishment, but the suffering must be raised higher each time if it is to work at all. He ignores the boundaries of the roles as he emotionally flails, wanting peace, desiring death.

It appears to be a forgone conclusion where it will all go, and that’s the wonderful beating heart at the core of this story. Bereavement has been the subject of many a feature over the entire existence of man, and there are many universally recognised treatments designed to cope with it. But there is zero doubt that Juha is an intellect and probably has tried them all, with no success.

In the most bizarre, beautiful and brutal way possible there is salvation, and redemption to be found for Juha, he just had to look in the darkest place he could find, and see his true self staring back.
Dark it is, but it is also very funny too, which allows the darker events to happen, and be more digestible, understandable. This is about rebirth, but as with the apparent trauma of birth itself, this won’t be easy by any stretch of the wicked imagination.

For all this to work, the key actors Pekka/Krista have to maintain an incredible chemistry, truth and trust between them throughout (just like the scene itself), and they do with aplomb, they are truly fantastic together, giving an immense purity and honesty to individuals finding each other and themselves in fairly unusual circumstances, and it is wonderful to ultimately behold through the beautifully and seductive shots by Pietari Peltola.

On the surface it may initially sound like something you might watch, and that is absolutely why you should watch it, you won’t be disappointed.

8/10 Dogs Don’t Wear Pants is out now on Curzon Home Cinema.