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All Critics (31)
| Top Critics (13)
| Fresh (31)
| Rotten (0)
It would be easy to say Granik offers a portrait of redneck life in "Stray Dog," but even allowing for Hill's guns and skepticism about government, it's clear such an oversimplified cultural cliché can't begin to describe the reality here.
Without voice-overs or interviews or other narrative cues, it offers vignettes from Hall's life, a mosaic portrait of a part of America that is misunderstood, dismissed, exploited, and wooed by outsiders.
This is Granik's first documentary, and it lacks the momentum of her two dramatic features (the other is the gripping addiction drama Down to the Bone with Vera Farmiga). But it's still a worthwhile bulletin from red-state America.
Expertly playing with our preconceived notions, Granik's multidimensional portrait also serves as a telling state-of-the-union address, as seen through the caring eyes of her philosophical main subject.
"Stray Dog" largely succeeds because Granik's technique complements her subject. Both he and the film are modest in their goals and cherish the value of honesty.
Perhaps its greatest virtue lies in its powerful, implicit challenge to the lazy habit of looking at American life through polarized red- and blue-tinted lenses.
Stray Dog shows us again and again, through its protagonist's words and actions, that you can't judge a book by its cover, or its red neck.
In her unobtrusively assured portrait of an interracial, economically disadvantaged community, Granik has crafted a much-needed corrective to the commonly held belief that poor people are blind to each other and the world at large.
An object lesson in avoiding stereotypes. A tattooed biker in southern Missouri looks like a Trump voter but is far more enlightened on immigrant rights than most.
'Stray Dog' is a stark, insightful portrayal of U.S. biker culture that overlaps with trailer-park culture, veteran, gun, NASCAR, hunting, mountain, tattoo, and beard culture.
There are no talking head moments included, just real vignettes of veterans coping with past horrors and present boredom through the adrenaline-rich biker culture.
Granik breaks bones: released from dark psychological drama, she proves herself a master of undercurrent and portent and abiding sorrow as she observes a family under stress in our increasingly hard times... intimate, immersive and wholly compelling.
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