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Film Festival Cologne 2018: Dogman – The Horrific Story of An Italian Dog Groomer

By Martha Sigargök-Martin | Features & Reviews

Oct 24

Genre: Drama | Country: Italy | 2018

Directed by Matteo Garrone

Writing Credits: Ugo Chiti, Matteo Garrone, Massimo Gaudioso, Marco Perfetti, Damiano D’Innocenzo, Fabio D’Innocenzo, Giulio Troli

Starring:  Marcello Fonte, Edoardo Pesce, Nunzia Schiano

The film festival Cologne ended on the 12th of October this year and it had an official competition with lots of movies that were presented at the Cannes Film Festival 2018 for the first time.

Dogman by Italian director Matteo Garrone was one of them. The director is known for his upsetting and critically acclaimed Gomorrha (2008). The book, which the film is based on, has almost costed the life of its author, Roberto Saviani, whose life has been threatened ever since.

Dogman isn’t a comedy either, although the film has many surprising aspects, that disrupt the drama.


Dogman depicts the story of a dog groomer (incredible Marcello Fonte), who has a big heart for animals. Thanks to his occasional coke dealing, he’s well integrated into his community but he’s at the mercy of a former violent boxer (Edoardo Pesce), Simone. The ex-boxer terrorizes the whole neighborhood and forces Marcello in even more criminal activities. Little by little, Marcello gets more involved until he betrays his own community.

Cinematography & Editing

Responsible for the brilliant cinematography of Dogman is Nicolai Brüel (The Machine). The cinematography accompanied by the genius editing of Marco Spoletini (Gomorrha, Corpo Celeste) tell the story by itself:

You don’t need to understand the dialogues to get the metaphor during the first ten minutes. It’s the story of a big alpha and violent dog, that’s going to be taken down sooner or later, and his loyal and omega dog, who suffers from helper syndrome.

As to be expected, this can’t go well.


Marcello Fonte was convincing as a small loyal dog on his own. The character of Marcello is a sweet, warm and big-hearted guy at his core. One could almost forgive his coke dealing. But you never sure what he’s really made of. He’s also the guy who seems to have no limit, when it’s about his loyalty towards Simone or if he needs some extra cash for a vacation with his beloved daughter, Sofia (Alida Baldari Calabria).

Simone, played genially by Edoardo Pesce, is the kind of guy you’d like to punch in the face. At distance of course. Simone is the bad guy, the pain in the ass, the schoolyard bully, that everybody wants to get rid of, but nobody dares to. He’s hideous inside and out, except for his mother. And Marcello.


You’ll feel your heartbeat augment and your throat gets dry from watching Marcello snatching into this Stockholm-Syndrome-Bromance until he gets enough, but you won’t regret it for a minute.

Dogman is a tragicomic drama, painful to process and you should absolutely watch it.

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About the Author

Hello there! I'm Martha, a tenacious optimist, professional mistake maker and a pain in the ass for those who love status quo. I love inspiring films and series not only because they're pretty but also because they have the power to change perspective and sometimes to heal.