Sunday 8 January 2023

Movie Review: Straw Dogs (1971)

Genre: Psychological Suspense Thriller Drama
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Susan George, David Warner, Peter Vaughan
Running Time: 117 minutes

Synopsis: In rural England, American mathematical researcher David Sumner (Dustin Hoffman) and his English vixen wife Amy (Susan George) have just moved into her ancestral home in a rural English village. The local pub is ruled over by the cantankerous Tom Heddon (Peter Vaughan) and his brood, including nephew Charlie (Del Henney), who has a sexual history with Amy. Tensions rise between the Sumners as he buries himself in work and she feels neglected. The local men resent Amy marrying an outsider, and view the passive David as weak. With Charlie and his friends "helping" build the Sumners' garage, conflict is on the horizon.

What Works Well: Peckinpah invests in a long build-up to draw sharp contrasts between a seemingly meek mathematician and a rough-and-tumble blue-collar community, with Amy falling into the fissure between her past and present. The violence, once it kicks in, is brutally memorable. A cat incident is followed by a rape and finally a siege, exposing the thin veneer of civility and the boiling rage ready to erupt out of every man. The final 30 minutes feature a remarkably staged defend-the-fort epic. Afforded an elaborate role, Susan George has rarely been better, combining loyalty, boredom, flirtatiousness, and self-preservation. 

What Does Not Work As Well: The introduction, while necessary, is slow. The complex rape scene is difficult to watch, and David's transformation into a resourceful warrior is sudden. Charlie and his brethren are barely distinguishable, all surrendering to unkempt shaggy hair and overgrown sideburns. 

Conclusion: A ruthless statement on the timeless barbarity of man.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome reader comments about this post.