Dogs Don’t Wear Pants, 20 2020–20 March 2021, from £4.99 - Book now
J-P Valkeapää’s Dogs Don’t Wear Pants is a film that exploits all of the aesthetic potential of red neon, black leather and gleaming chrome as it investigates the complex intersection of grief and sexuality. Set in Finland, this involving odyssey of sexual discovery opens with tragedy as Juha (Pekka Strang) desperately, and in vain, tries to save his wife (Ester Geislerovà) from drowning. Their young daughter Elli (Ilona Huhta) cries from a nearby jetty as Juha is plucked from the water by a passing fisherman.
Cut to some years later. Juha takes his now teenage daughter to a piercing studio and inadvertently stumbles into the PVC lair of Mona (Krista Kosonen), a dominatrix. She knocks him down and chokes him. The lack of air transports Juha to those last moments underwater with his wife. Before long he’s booking appointments, chasing the brief reverie of reunion and pushing Mona to carry out increasingly dangerous acts of asphyxiation.
Dogs Don’t Wear Pants wants to make you squirm
Juha endangers his career as a surgeon and his relationship with his daughter. He goes so far as to alienate Mona, leading one worried colleague to ponder, rather poetically, “Whether all your Moomins are in the valley?” Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (the title a direction from Mona to her newest client) wants to make you squirm with its graphic depictions of both sadomasochistic play and Juha’s surgeries.
Yet Valkeapää has an eye for humanity — and while the film is undoubtedly bleak in parts — streaks of optimism and jet-black humour lead us to the unlikeliest of feel-good conclusions.
Dogs Don’t Wear Pants