Mar 21, 2011


This started out without a word; a review without text. I brainstormed upon how I would handle this film in particular, given that it is otherworldly compared to Bigas Luna's other works. Caniche (1983) is unlike any that I've seen of his, created in the beginning of his career, raw and abrasive beyond question. It also happened to be the first picture of his that I had seen. Caniche ultimately turned me onto Bigas Luna's archives as a whole.  From his critically acclaimed stylizing of cuisine and intimacy, Bigas Luna has evolved into quite a contemporary and effeminate force to be reckoned with. From the past comes spilling something blank and furious - Caniche is Àngel Jové's testament to his internal abscess, proving with flying colors that rarely an actor can achieve the impassivity of many of his filmic manifestations. I remember this night very vividly. I swallowed sleeping pills as to ensure an early night. I find myself often being distracted by thoughts of film or perusing various resources on the Internet, always expanding my horizons. With promises of a simple experience, I played Caniche to a weary host and enjoyed the images so much that I fought the effects of the medication until the film was over.

Without even mentioning, I'll admit that Caniche required an additional viewing as what I was feeling and fighting may leave me described as senseless. Caniche, as you might know, translates to poodle, as to, Danny the poodle, who might be described as the main character of this little number and the catalyst for the whirlwind to come. Making up the near entirety of the film is a study of the bored bourgeois. Two siblings live under the financial stability provided from their wealthy and withering Aunt Linda. As per usual, man plays beast more than ever and Bernardo (Àngel Jové) wishes death upon his ailing relative. No reason is permitted other than Linda's scolding of his hypochondria and his alikeness to his mother. In choice moments, we are given sight at Àngel Jové's character complaining about his teeth and how they pain him. This probably isn't the first situation of unnecessary medical treatment he has found himself in. The rival sister, Eloisa, flaunts and flirts about the small cast of characters and lands a sordid rendezvous with a local veterinarian whose big plans to erect a dog park also lends to the finale of sexual desolation and debauchery. What turns the mixture black is Bigas Luna's incorporation of the ever-foreign zoophilia. This is displayed in many scenes but the most introductory and spoiler-free can be summarized with Eloisa smearing honey on her cunt and beckoning Danny to lick it off, sending Bernardo into a furor. Mutual care taking of Danny is then applied vigorously with Bernardo's jealousy. Asking simple things of Bernardo such as to remove a flea, we witness, clenched teeth and all, excessive force with a set of tweezers as to ensure suffering on Danny's part.

I derived pleasure from listening to the mongrel howl in pain, I'll admit. Bigas Luna has this way with grafting fits of emotion from his lead characters unto you. While Bernardo was naive and an over-aggressor, he was also human and victim to his own desires, however inhuman they may appear. This also leads to my assertion that Caniche is one of the strangest films in his oeuvre (Still need to see Bilbao) as it's more adept in masculinity than other film following. Bigas Luna is especially known for his preaching of the feminine art form, whereas Caniche is a materialization of his most debased and primal of taboos. Despite being such a minimalistic film, Caniche has much subtext of the pathology of deviance. While it might not give scientific reasoning behind the nature of these siblings' actions, it explores this dark crevice and gives it a fitting tribute while not coming off as a hyperbole. For an example that doesn't strafe into spoiler territory, it is implied that the meat these silver spoon-raised brother/sister pair eat is the flesh of minced puppies. In a scene expressing the sorrows of every activist, Eloisa is shown adopting a handful of barely month old puppies and quick-cuts to a chopping block. Subtlety may be utilized but it is hardly compulsory. Caniche is a twisted gem, this is for certain. It serves as a collection of deviations so awry that it is hard to swallow and certainly harder to see it for what it really is - poetic. If your temperament can permit constant bickering between siblings then Caniche might be right up your alley. Don't expect too much aesthetic, however. Early on in his career, Bigas Luna seemed to favor style and design as opposed to polished imagery. This is certainly a diamond in the rough and wholly experimental in contrast with his more refined, modern works of art.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

what a delightfully bizaare movie poster! never before have i seen a small dog with eyes as accusing and mean-spirited.