Wild Dogs –
an intriguing film about moral, clashing cultures and
By Judith van Praag
In Thom Fitzgerald’s The Wild Dogs, Bucharest as
a character may be flawed —this is not Rick Steve's Romania—
but cinematographer Tom Harding’s nostalgic shots of the
city's dilapidated grandeur, create a wonderful backdrop,
for this intriguing film about moral, clashing cultures
and good intentions.
Several story lines, all of which seem to be of equal
importance, are woven together into a braid of meandering
lifelines. At some point the scenes follow each other
in such fast tempo, editor Michael Weir seems to have
wanted to create a film version of the Tarantella.
The movie starts out in Bucharest, showing Bogdan (Mihai
Calota), who attempts to make a living as a dog-catcher,
but is no good at it. Geordie (Thom Fitzgerald himself)
is send to Bucharest by his bullying pornographer boss
to shoot pictures of under age girls for their web site.
On the plane he meets Victor, a Canadian diplomat, who
Geordie for dinner at his home.
On their way into town from the airport, Geordie is confronted
with the multitude of both beggars and dogs, roaming around.
One beggar in particular, misshaped "Sour Grapes"
(Visinel Burcea) draws Geordie's attention.
After dinner, Natalie (Alberta Watson), Victor's neglected,
weltfremd [quixotic] wife is scorned by their slutty
daughter Moll (Rachel Blanchard) for not knowing the name
of their servant Varvana (Bogdan's wife, played by Simone
At his decadent gentlemen's club, Victor introduces Geordie
to a girl who has no problem working in the sex business,
but is too orthodox to be a model. In a rather humorous
scene another gives her opinion on politics, while baring
herself for Geordie's (not the film's) camera. Radu (Marcel
Ungureanu Catalin) an entertaining, well-dressed little
man takes Geordie to a discotheque, where he runs into
Moll. The trio party together throughout the night, Radu
showing his diverse talents: from pole dancing, to singing
with gypsy musicians.
The next day Moll explains how the multitude of wild dogs
in town is a result of dictator Ceaucescu's politics:
"the proletariat cannot have dogs," and that
the mayor wants to rebuild the city from scratch and have
all the dogs caught and killed.
Director/ writer Fitzgerald draws a parallel between the
dogs, their sorry state and homelessness, and the life
of man. Intermittent scenes of fighting men and dogs may
lay it on a bit thick, the comparison is effective.
Each in their own way, some of the main characters attempt
to make a difference, with mixed, if not tragic results.
Bogdan rounds up a large number of stray dogs in an old
bath house; Natalie, who's not allowed to adopt a Bulgarian
baby (either by husband or state) takes pity on the fate
of a boy without legs, and Geordie, who sees the light
after photographing a small gypsy girl, gives all of the
pornographer's money to Radu.
Given the beggars' history, we can only hope they'll be
able to enjoy the gifts. As depicted in The Wild Dogs,
the fate of underprivileged and dogs in Bucharest remains
is founder/ director of Stichting ABeL (S'ABeL) in Amsterdam,
and owner of Paseo Press in Seattle. She is the arts writer
of the International Examiner, and presents
architectural tours at Seattle Central Public Library
2006 Content property of Judith van Praag