Isle of Dogs (2010, directed by Tammi Sutton)


No, this is not the slow-moving Wes Anderson film from a few years back.

Instead, this is a film about a London crime boss named — don’t laugh — Darius (Andrew Howard).  Darius has an anger problem and it is not helped by all of the cocaine that he snorts at his club.  He also has a Russian wife named Nadia (Barbara Nedeljakova), a former prostitute who Darius says that he rescued.  Darius is insanely jealous.  When he suspects Nadia is having an affair, he takes the man who he suspects was her lover out to the countryside and, after a lot of yelling, eventually gets around to executing him.  The only problem is that Darius got the wrong guy!

Instead, Nadia’s lover is a low-level hood named Riley (Edward Hogg).  Nadia is waiting for Riley to show up at Darius’s country estate and take her away from her life as the trophy wife of an abusive psycho.  When a masked intruder shows up with a knife, things start to get more complicated.

Unfortunately, just because things get more complicated, that doesn’t mean that they get any more interesting.  For a film featuring frequent violence, graphic gore, and more than a little sex, Isle of Dogs is a remarkably dull affair.  A huge part of the problem is that the characters are never that interesting so you really don’t care when they lose a limb or are forced to commit a murder.  Darius, Nadia, and Riley are all stereotypes who will be easily recognized from other, better British gangster films.  At first, it seems like Andrew Howard’s energetic cursing might make bring some life to Darius but after a while, even Darius’s temper gets old.  I was hoping that the film would at least make good use of London but instead, the majority of the film takes place at Darius’s country estate, which looks like every other country estate.

There are some twists to the plot.  The film makes liberal use of flashbacks and flashforwards, though they don’t add up too much.  For some reason, there’s a scene of a naked Darius practicing his golf swing.  Someone loses an arm and barely flinches.  The film probably would have been better if Wes Anderson had directed it.  At least he would have brought along Bill Murray.