Stray (2020) - 7/10
Updated: May 13
This starts with a quote, “Human beings live artificially and hypocritically and would do well to study the dog”. Dogs are amazing animals and this is a celebration in many ways of our furry four legged friends. It’s news to me, but Istanbul is full of stray dogs. It’s is illegal to capture or kill strays, so hundreds maybe thousands of them live free. One is Zeytin, a beautiful sandy coloured creature who chases cats, sings beautifully along to the call to prayer and sniffs around in parks, wagging her tail when she meets other dogs… except the poncy toy dogs with owners in impractical shoes that shoo her away. This is the crux of the film, how society treats individuals. Zeytin has a tough life, but it’s lovely to see how independent she is and hasn’t lost any of her sweet nature. She carries herself with pride and dignity. The film follows Zeytin, Nasar and Kartel, a little puppy who captures some of the more heartbreaking moments and when I say follows, I mean just that. The crew have done a remarkable job to remain inconspicuous and humans are largely a sideshow. The dogs are the focus, with the camera kept low. Empathising with their world. The dogs are not alone on the streets though. There’s a lot of refugees too and they’re brought into the story, sharing many of the societal issues as the dogs. Dogs may seem simple, but through this lens they are the ones with the world figured out. The humans are the idiots, the humans are the animals. A really lovely, thoughtful and engaging piece of cinema.