Directed by Aaron Dunleavy, Joseph Ollman
Starring: Lewis Bradshaw, Peter Quinn, Jack Hartley
Short film review by Kurran Sohanta
This compelling short tells the story of a lonesome boy’s struggle to win the affection of his father and those around him in the terraced streets of a British town. In as little as 12 minutes, directors Aaron Dunleavy and Joseph Ollman have given a riveting depiction of the experiences of real British people, insightfully exploring what life may be like for a young boy growing up in an impoverished area.
The short film explores social realism with key themes of bullying, broken relationships and growing up in a run-down environment. What the directors have done brilliantly is to convey the gritty and intense tone of the story by shooting with a cast of non-professional, local actors. This gives the short a truly raw and believable edge making Throw me to the Dogs a gripping watch.
Throw me to the Dogs begins immediately by giving the viewer a taste of life for many of Britain’s inhabitants with a shot of Quinny (Peter Quinny) disastrously cooking runny eggs for dinner, quickly deciding on a classic British favourite of chips instead. This opening shot is as clever as it is simple, the diegetic sounds, coupled with quick cutaways and minimal editing, successfully enhances the authenticity of the short here making it instantly relatable with the use of stereotypes, grounding the film in reality.
The narrative quickly shifts to Dylan, played by Lewis Bradshaw, who gives an incredibly honest performance which in no manner reflects his acting inexperience. Dylan is seen being pushed around and bullied by a group of local boys, who are led by Tez (Jack Hartley), who takes advantage of Dylan’s shyness with verbal abuse and taunts. This has a roll-on effect on the young boy’s relationship with his father Quinny and we see there is no real communication between them. When we see how Dylan deals with, or rather does not deal with, his difficult relationships in the following scenes, it gives the viewer a swift reminder that life is not always as easy as it seems away from fabricated “reality” television programmes, which are more often than not focused on the lives of the wealthy upper classes.
A particularly noteworthy scene is when Dylan is handing the chips to his father, and Quinny seems to be more interested in watching the football than acknowledging his son, who has just been physically and verbally abused by Tez’s boys. Although this is just a short scene in the film, it effectively highlights the frailty of father and son, which makes Throw me to the Dogs that more powerful.
Dunleavy claimed in a local newspaper interview that the film was entirely improvised, with none of the cast having to learn lines, which captures the heart of the narrative, a truly plausible portrayal of adolescent life.