Directed by: #HugoDiegoGarcia
Written by: Hugo Diego Garcia
Cagnolino Movie Review
Filmmaker Hugo Diego Garcia hugely impressed with his 2018 short film Tony, a drama about a young man drawn more to his family on the streets than the toxic one in his home, who hopes to find a better future for himself. With his latest short film, Cagnolino (which means puppy in Italian), Garcia is concerning himself with similar themes in that his characters are fresh into manhood and their futures lie ahead just as exciting and/or uncertain. Only this time, the brotherhood of the streets is the toxic element causing all the trouble.
Pietro Mercieca plays Dali, a sensible young man who has taken the leap and “abandoned” his roots by signing up to college. His gaggle of hoodlum friends don’t take kindly to this but still invite him along for a crime spree where they plan to use a newly acquired gun to make some serious cash. When the group stumble upon another foursome who are enjoying a jolly night out, events escalate and many of the characters are forced to make decisions with unalterable consequences.
Say what you will about the gangster genre but it has given us some of the most compelling pieces of cinema in history. Some of which are referenced in short film Cagnolino. Adorning the walls of the boys’ flat are posters for The Godfather, City of God, and Scarface. Garcia brings with him this cinematic lineage and still delivers a modern film that feels compelling, fresh, and riveting. Ideas of toxic masculinity are challenged and the story includes a subtle depth to the nature of the relationships on offer; some are rooted in a shared idealism, whilst others are fractured at the core.
The ensemble provide exemplary performances and there is a ferocious chemistry between the two groups which only ignites when they clash. The standoff scene in the alley is a remarkably powerful scene that will likely be one of the best amongst the short films of 2020.
Visually the piece is stunning, with urban landscapes first appearing as a coming-of-age landscape which quickly transform into a stark and brutal battleground. Garcia utilises slow-motion and affecting music in order to sculpt an emotional atmosphere in which the characters can interact and the audience can be engulfed by. The Godfather feels like an obvious influence upon the short movie, in terms of structure, plot, and the robust elements which make up the film.
Having delivered Tony in a compelling and thought-provoking manner, Garcia seems to have stepped up his ferocity as a storyteller and become sharper with his #filmmaking craft. Cagnolino feels svelte and wiry, each frame ready to engage the viewer with either gripping tension or hefty drama.