Kriv Stenders’ big screen adaptation of Louis De Bernieres’ Red Dog (2011) tells the heart-warming story of how a small rough-and-ready mining town in the outback of western Australia was won-over and brought together by a wandering red dog. After arriving in industrial hick town of Dampier with a delivery for its folk, trucker, Thomas, enters the local bar to find someone in charge, and immediately some unnerving noises, and sinister silhouettes greet him, suggesting that something foul might be at play.
The people making the noise are hidden from his sight and start talking about finishing someone off, and Thomas, instinctively dives into the rescue only to find the town’s folk, gathered closely around a dying dog. From thereon, one-by-one, the people of Dampier, Western Australia each have a story to tell about their wonderful canine friend, fondly known to them all as Red Dog.
Whilst the film’s initial release and campaign may have seemingly been geared towards a family audience, in particular, kids, Red Dog does offer some moments of drama that will no doubt bring a tear to the eyes of the hardest viewers. Additionally, it is full of sweet comedic moments that will get a laugh from kids and adults alike, and enough of a story to keep the elder members of its audience from turning to the bottle five minutes in.
With a sweet eccentricity in places, and a heart-breaking romance to boot, Red Dog isn’t just a tale about a wandering dog – although he really is that central – it’s a story of a small town, full of completely different people and a shared love for one particular pooch, who gives them reason to come together and to celebrate as one.
The cast doesn’t really include anyone major to speak of – aside from Koko the dog of course – but nonetheless its central characters give great performances. Josh Lucas is John, the man who just can’t seem to find a good enough reason to stay in one place; Rachael Taylor plays Nancy, one of the few women with a job in the town; and London-born actor, Noah Taylor plays the pub’s landlord.
Red Dog plays on the heart strings in a big way, undeniably a great film for kids and an enjoyable watch for adults with some genuinely touching moments.