What the heck did I just watch!
Screenplay By: Frank Pierson
Directed By: Sidney Lumet
There are movies that are odd and Dog Day Afternoon certainly qualifies as one. It isn’t just an odd film because of its subject matter and characters, it’s odd in its presentation. I feel safe in saying that what you see with Dog Day Afternoon is all you get. This isn’t a film that strives for any deeper meaning. If it presents an idea or a theme, it clearly states said theme and then quickly moves on. Not only does all of this add up to an odd movie, but it equals a movie that is hard to get into.
I will say that there are some genuinely funny moments in Dog Day Afternoon. There aren’t many poignant or dramatic moments, because the characters failed to connect with me on any sort of dramatic level. However, there were moments of comedy and moments that weren’t supposed to be funny that ended up funny. The film also moved along at a nice clip. This greatly helped to immerse me in the proceedings. As I said I didn’t feel any connection to the characters or events, but the brisk pace of the narrative meant that at the very least I was engaged at all times.
Al Pacino is very good in Dog Day Afternoon, and I’m sure that sounds odd after I just lamented over the films inability to connect with me. It is true that I didn’t feel any sort of connection with Pacino, but I did recognize the little touches he was adding to Sonny that made him more affecting than he had any right to be. It wasn’t a great performance, but it was enough to keep me interested in what Pacino was going to do next.
The main problem in Dog Day Afternoon is that the story never goes anywhere and the narrative is very stagnant. I kept on expecting for something, anything to happen in the story, but outside of an anti-climatic resolution the story stayed put. If a story is resigned to staying in one place then there needs to be some sort of deeper meaning to the picture. But, as I already said Dog Day Afternoon lacks any deeper meaning. It touches on the ideas of homosexuality, conformity and economics but it never goes beyond a passing glimpse of these subjects.
Dog Day Afternoon is a peculiar movie, and based on the strength of Pacino’s performance plus the brisk nature of the film I would recommend it. However, it’s not a movie that will get you thinking or one that will leave you contemplating life. Dog Day Afternoon is a sometimes funny picture that never really gets going, it’s just like being stuck in a bank vault during a robbery.