Red Dog is quintessentially an Australian story – a masculine, rough as guts exterior with a soppy, sentimental core. The movie is apparently based on a true story – about a red dog that used to roam the northwestern part of Australia in the late 1970’s. There is even a statue in his memory in Dampier, where the movie is also set.
The story revolves around a Red Dog – a kelpie – that mysteriously appeared on the road to Dampier. He hitched a ride in the car driven by the new publican and his wife and began his new life in Dampier, Western Australia befriending tough miners and affecting their lives personally. One claimed that he saved his life, the other said that Red Dog was his true matchmaker with his wife. The miners even accepted him as an honorary member of their Trade Union. Although he politely went along with all of the miners, it was John (Josh Lucas) – an American bus-driver who ended up becoming Red Dog’s true master. Red Dog also witnessed John’s blossoming romance with a newcomer from Perth, Nancy (Rachael Taylor) and his subsequent marriage proposal.
All of these sub-plots are told in a humorous way in the movie – the Director, Kriv Stenders is so skillful in directing the movie that when you think that the scenes are getting too sentimental and soppy, he pulls it right back and injects a little bit of humour or laughter into them. However, when the scene demands some sincerity and emotions, he drives the movie head on and brings the audience along with him, teary eyed and sniffly. The true star in the movie is Koko – the canine actor – he is so expressive in the movie that he portrays all of the emotions really well. I thought there would be two or three similar-looking dogs used in the movie and when I read that there was only one, I was truly amazed.
Having just recently adopted a dog, the movie made me want to rush home and cuddle my Indy. If you have a dog or have ever had a dog, this movie is for you. Laugh and cry along with it, learn again about dog’s amazing loyalty and love for us. While you’re at it, enjoy a little bit of Australian larrikinism. It is said that Aussies really don’t take anything seriously – perhaps it’s true but it’s one thing that binds us – deep down Aussies have a good heart, you just need to dig a little deeper beyond the bravado and the rough terrain.
Red Dog is recommended for all – it may not be totally suitable for children due to some of the coarse language and some of the scenes, but if you’re prepared to look past those and look deeper, this movie has a golden heart. I watched this with some colleagues from work, and I had to do my darnedest to keep my tears from rolling down.