Dec 12, 2010


Baxter is a late 80s French film exploring the first person narrative life of a bull terrier whose boredom has unleashed murderous conclusions, or so the DVD release states. Interesting enough, the French answer to such flyweight "pussy shit" as The Adventures of Milo & Otis is labeled a dark comedy, a genre I feel does not support the going-ons within the leashed Baxter. Displayed in 3 acts, relishing both the modern play and stages of life, Baxter experiences certain childhood with his elderly recluse, Mrs. Deville. After being shut in for quite some time and much pestering, Baxter begins to have brief, vivid flashbacks to a time before. These unnatural thoughts seem to provoke some aggression and cunning to this sweet bull terrier's coat. In typical French black comedy convention, see also: Bernie (1996), lengths of extremism are constantly touched in brief and gripping fashion. In particular, the scene in which Baxter causes an infant to nearly drown as his jealously tipped to the boiling point. It's no wonder John Waters' short-lived television show surrounding the basis of cinematic corruption featured Baxter on only the fourth episode. 

Switching to the second act, Baxter could have only made the transfer to the neighboring house by staging a terrible accident. The long existential windings of Baxter pad the scenes of conscious desire. This alone creates the illusion that Baxter is a humanized canine. Certainly a film not meant for dog owners, I even find my self staring at my own and questioning the dog's intent, wondering if my next step will be my last. Successfully appealing to and aiding the Tales from the Darkside: The Movie short, Cat from Hell, Baxter is a new breed of creature film - injecting pathos and wisdom into an able-bodied companion, or what one would hope. While this film certainly brandishes elements of comedy, it consistently heeds horror of the rawest nature. Baxter presents such morbid fascination of its canine character that the dog fitting Baxter's role was by far the greatest performance of the film. Baxter's seething rants of misanthropy burned through the film as this "sharkly" creature stared out from a window looking at a life he longed for. Such sights and smells he wanted and when he finally acquired them, he hungered for something more. Just goes to show how superfluous need is. 

The effect Baxter had on me was utterly terrifying and foreign. I found myself scoffing the want or will to love or kill. Once Baxter reaches "the Happy Days", I found myself breathing a sigh of relief as the slowly coiling suspense of his sheltered past began to unwind back to its original state. That happiness didn't last though. When the woman took on child, and in preparation, ignored Baxter, these feelings of contempt for both he and I returned full force. It's as if they never subsided but lie dormant within me the whole time. Concocting another devilish plan to eliminate the obtrusive, Baxter yelps too soon and spares the child's life inadvertently. However, this action thrusts Baxter into the hands of his soul-mate, a young boy obsessed with the final days of Hitler and the love he and Eva Braun shared. By now, you no doubt believe that Baxter is an incarnation of evil, I mean, who would purge to reach like-minded goals? Once Baxter meets that "someone like him", a strange masochistic bond is formed. As Baxter once was disobedient, he is now cultivated and obeys the boy's every command at the expense of his own beatings. The boy molds Baxter into an attack dog, trains him well, but slowly sheds his ruse of proper schoolboy to reveal the greater evil. By the end of the film, you'll feel sorry for ever doubting Baxter as his assertions have been mostly correct. Who really favors the weak? We all thrive off of fear, in one way or another.

By the end of the film, many questions will be asked. For instance, was the abuse given to Baxter authentic or controlled? Judging from France's history of cruelty towards animals in film (Here's to you, Carne), the answer would appear to be genuine. Given the stationary measures of camera work taken in Baxter, the dog's yelps and skittish behavior whilst being whipped and kicked is something that cannot be easily fabricated. Let this film be yet another testament to the demerit of motherhood in which Baxter also explores the jeopardy children are placed in when the female libido is in question. The gift given to Baxter is an indomitable portrait of a canine with stunningly human traits. Sexuality towards human females is bestowed and the thrill of non-consensual sex is displayed, much to his chagrin. Like your best friend, Baxter is somebody you'd love to keep close, but fear of rebellion would resonate soundly. Baxter is so much more than an Animals Attack film and retains the same harrowing element of hatred that it did the day of its release.



JESCIE said...

Phantom of Pulp said...

Great review. BAXTER is one of my favorite films of all time. A masterpiece.

The novel by Jessica Hamilton aka Ken Greenhall is also extraordinary.

Sound also plays a big part in this film's success.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

You know how difficult it is for me to stop thinking about Heather (even for more than a few seconds), well i was trying to read this reveiw and just about girl-aging to concentrate on what i was reading and then you wrote the phrase "the happy days" and i immediately started thinking about Heather, Heather and nothing but Heather and was unable to finish reading the reveiw. I was wondering, did you do that on purpose?, knowing that i might be enjoying reading the reveiw and then you thought "i know i`ll throw in this curve-labia from outfield and then he`ll start thinking about Heather again and he wont be able to finish reading the reveiw". I bet you did do that on purpose knowing that any word or phrase will start the avalanche of Heather O`Rourke imagery in my mind when i`m desperately trying to focus on something else (which isn`t often admittedly), in one way that was a bit cheeky but in another way it did me a favour because ultimately (and strickly speaking) i just want endless avalanches of Heather O`Rourke imagery and magic in my mind (and nothing else) because compared to the magic of Heather everything else is rubbish anyway.