Straw Dogs (1970)

Straw Dogs (1970)
Dir. Sam Peckinpah
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Susan George, etc.

This has one of the more disturbing and harrowing scenes I’ve seen. This film is over thirty years old and I have seen enough disturbing scenes that I can be a bit jaded; yet, this film still managed to disturb me and make me uncomfortable. I think a big reason is that the notion of a civilized and somewhat genteel man confronting violence and the implications on his manhood hits home for me.

The plot involves a mathematician, David Sumner (Dustin Hoffman) and his British wife Amy Sumner (Susan George) being harassed by the local village toughs. (The film takes place in England.)

There are some interesting ideas that Peckinpah explores–civilization and violence; sexuality and its relation to power and violence. I felt like there were some false notes in the acting, particularly at the end. Not only was a bit confused about the motivation and inner workings of David and Amy, but the filmmakers couldn’t capture the complexity of different emotions and motivations in a convincing way. The thought I had was that the director and actors didn’t have the talent (or didn’t succeed) at portraying that complexity very well. Still, the film has interesting ideas and some pretty good moments, but I felt the film wasn’t entirely successful in reaching it’s objective.

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