Bulldog short film review

Updated: Feb 3

★★★★

Directed by: Kieran Stringfellow

Written by: Kieran Stringfellow

Starring: Louis Brogan

Film Review by: Jason Knight

Movie Poster for Bulldog

A homeless man had something taken from him and is determined to get it back.


The rough sleeper (Brogan) is at a park. He covers his bruised and bloodied hands in bandages, brushes his teeth and from plastic bags he removes a phone and a small box, containing a military tag necklace. It appears that he had gotten into some trouble and has just been released from police custody. He walks into a shop and steals a hammer. He later takes a train to an unknown destination. He has a plan.


This short, bleak thriller focuses on the life of an unprivileged individual. Being homeless, he has a hard, miserable life and gets into trouble. However, he is mentally strong and knows how to set his mind to do something.


There are no spoken words. This is because Stringfellow has stated that his intention was to make a film that was completely visually-led, using the camera to tell the story rather than dialogue.


There are plenty of well-executed tracking shots, where the camera is following the protagonist as he walks through streets, wearing a backpack. The director uses closeups, showing the man's hands as he performs various actions, such as handling his belongings. The man is the only person in the film, and that reflects the lonely life he lives.


There is one scene that deserves special mention. In this scene, consisting of one shot, the camera is behind the man and gradually moves towards him. The man is standing still and in front of him are buildings. As the camera moves closer and closer, the music becomes more and more tense. This could signify that he is becoming more and more anxious, as his time to act is getting closer. This shot is also the only one where the image is letterboxed, in contrast to the rest of the film where pillarboxing is utilized. The decision to use letterboxing in this specific shot, makes it look more establishing.


As the script is without dialogue, the audience relies on Brogan's actions and face expressions in order to determine who he is and what he is up to. Brogan goes through almost the entire film with an emotionless face. His character is a man who does not reveal his feelings. He has gone through a lot, but gets back up again and takes action when necessary.


The narrative is nonlinear, containing flash-forwards that give an indication of the man's intentions with the hammer.


Brian Lane's score makes a great contribution. The music is dramatic and tense, adding a downbeat tone.


Bulldog is a story of struggle, poverty, crime but also compassion. Initially, the man appears to be dangerous and intending to do something terrible. The final scene is emotional and reveals that he has needs just like other people.




Bulldog screens as part of the BFI Future Film Festival from 18-21 February, free on BFI Player:

https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-bulldog-2020-online

#JasonKnight