Ulrich Seidl’s debut is an all-encompassing intro to the other masterpieces that followed. Similar to the work of fellow Austrian Haneke, his work is direct, unapologetic, revealing and brutal. A different normality unfolds under the hot summer sun in a suburb of Vienna. The heat does not only strip people off their clothes, it also removes bit by bit the layers of their personalities. What comes to light is bleak but spiked with helplessness. Everyone’s trapped in their own, suffering cruelty in silence, below the surface, invisible to anyone other than those who live in their respective microcosmos.
A young girl goes through a heated argument with her abusive boyfriend, which lasts for days. An elderly house-with-garden-owner uses a cruel method to annoy his neighbours. A mentally challenged hitch-hiker gets victimised. An estranged couple has different ways of coping with unbearable grief. A pimp’s behaviour entices love, self-mutilation and revenge: Sound interesting? There is more. There is no room for artificial suspense creation. Seid’s style is a documentary one. He is an observer and we become the voyeur. If you experience summer as a plague, making you impatient or bringing out your angry evil side, you will enjoy this one.
Dog Days, Ulrich Seidl, 2001