A weekend in a Viennese suburb, a no-man’s land between the motorway, supermarkets and warehouses. It’s hot and people are beginning to show signs of psychological stress. The temperature is rising and the late afternoon atmosphere becomes tense. The evening will be full of games, sex and violence.
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Of course it takes a documentary maker to hit it right out of the park concerning the Western European suburban hell. Hundstage is the ultimate depiction in that all too recognizable depression: Catholicism, work ethics, sexual repression (amongst others). Life, but how to live it...
Ulrich Seidl's films are in a special class that defy reviewing, or giving stars to, like Andy Warhol or Harmony Korine's work. And, like Korine, Seidl has a gift for making ordinary people seem ugly, and the ugliest among us seem captivating. Gorgeous photography graces portraits of ordinary, horrifyingly realistic people.
Warning. Sick, twisted and funny. For me the most significant story was the one of the hitchhiker. She would drive people crazy, and they would keep picking her up and driving her around. When you're angry it's helpful to have a scapegoat.
The last sentence summarizes the whole film: "Lauter garstige Menschen" (a lot of nasty people). While portraying Austro-Teutonic suburban ugliness quite precisely, Seidl's effort feels strangely bloodless. It lacks the visciousness and vigor artists like Thomas Bernhard or Franz Novotny display in their works.
Ulrich Seidl is a master of understanding character. However, what is even more impressive is his ability to take 6 different stories and cut almost unconsciously between them bringing to light the emptiness and monotony that connects them all and ultimately surrounds them.