Dog Day Afternoon (1975) (R)
Ancient Romans believed that the dog days were in correlation with the dog star (Sirius). When the days were heavy with heat and all the people wanted to do was stay at home and sweat it out, that's because of the heavenly body in the sky. The dog days refer to extremely hot days that come in the late of summer and sap a person of their energy. The most common way to express the phrase is to say that you're feeling lazy because today is a dog day.
This is the kind of day in which our main characters decide to pull off a robbery. From the beginning of "Dog Day Afternoon" we are given a shots of the people around town in Brooklyn. They sit here and there, eating or just relaxing, not really doing anything of great importance.
Then Sonny Wortzik gets the idea that he is going to rob a bank with his two friends.
Incompetence abides beautifully in their heist. When Sonny tried to pull his gun from a package is gets entangled and he thrashes the weapon while still trying to remain threatening. He's a very vibrant character. He says what's on his mind and he's no idiot though he makes some idiotic choices. He's naive and while claiming to see right through everyone's guise, he seems to believe that if he's nice to people they'll be nice to him. It's this misguided judge of people that leads him into several situations that are less than easy to get out of.
As soon as the robbery starts, one of the friends backs out. Now, there are just two left, Sonny and Sal. They hold hostages and try to get away with the minimal amount of money in the bank. But then, after a few blunders, the police show up and then the whole situation gets blown out of the water. The television reporters show up and it becomes a source of attention for many media newscasters.
It's the tale of instant, one-hit wonder celebrity. Sonny doesn't really like the attention but he doesn't mind it either. He uses the crowd that has gathered around the bank to his advantages, shouting out to them and riling them up like an audience at a rock concert.
Al Pacino plays Sonny and I think that it's one of his best roles. It's such a unique, different character and he plays him so perfectly.
"Dog Day Afternoon" is a true story, we are told so at the opening shot of the film. But what's regrettable about the movie is how dull it is. There's not much to it—they sit in a bank for a while. It felt like it was originally written for stage because of how little scenery has to be used.
It's not a comedy and it's not a drama or thriller but unlike other films (Wes Anderson movies) that embrace this middle ground, it feels like it wants to be both at the same time and cannot. There are amusing moments in "Dog Day Afternoon" but nothing that funny and there are somewhat thrilling moments, but overall it generates a feeling of blandness.
While it's interesting up to a point and the acting and dialogue is good, it felt a little too lifeless.
Throughout the course of the robbery, piece by piece falls into place to reveal more about Sonny Wortzik. It's a good way to keep interest, but it's not enough.
I feel like this movie represents the dog days very well. It's sweaty and hot and makes you feel like you're inside the dog days. I might have enjoyed it more if it was the last days of summer outside, that way I could have empathized with the situation a little more. Instead, I felt sleepy. I guess the dog days really did come to life.
Score: 2 and a half stars out of 4
Posted by Micah Jones