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New Release Review [VOD] - DOGS DON’T WEAR PANTS

dogs don't wear pants review
A grieving doctor is given a new lease of life when he encounters a dominatrix.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: J-P Valkeapää

Starring: Pekka Strang, Krista Kosonen, Ilona Huhta, Jani Volanen, Oona Airola

dogs don't wear pants poster


The dating scene is difficult enough to traverse for the average person, but imagine how much more frustrating it must be for those who enjoy a spot of BDSM. If you're a dominatrix you'll likely have many pointless encounters with men who claim to enjoy pain, only to yell out their safe word at the merest physical provocation. Equally, subs no doubt struggle to find doms willing to inflict the required level of physical torment upon them in order to fully get their rocks off.

Not so Juha (Pekka Strang) and Mona (Krista Kosonen), the pain loving protagonists of J.-P. Valkeapää's subdued Finnish drama, Dogs Don't Wear Pants. They're a match made in heaven.


dogs don't wear pants review

Over a decade after losing his wife to suicide, Juha is putting on a brave face for his now teenage daughter Elli (Ilona Huhta) and his colleagues at the hospital where he performs surgery. But Juha is still grieving intensely. His attempt to save his wife from drowning herself led Juha to almost drown himself, and he now replicates that memory by self-asphyxiating while spraying himself with his late wife's favourite perfume.

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For Elli's birthday, Juha takes his daughter to a tattoo parlour for a tongue piercing. Asked to wait outside, he explores the basement of the parlour and finds himself in the leathery lair of dominatrix Mona, who mistakes him for a client and knocks him unconscious. Juha has finally found someone who can recreate that sensation he felt in his last moments with his wife, and so returns to Mona on a daily basis, asking her to perform more extreme procedures with each visit. When Juha almost dies after some intense smothering, Mona cancels their arrangement, but Juha is determined to carry on, and Mona begins to realise she may have found the perfect sub she's been looking for.


dogs don't wear pants review

Dogs Don't Wear Pants commendably approaches the world of BDSM in a mature and respectful fashion. There's none of the nudge nudge, "isn't this a bit weird?" approach of the unwatchable 50 Shades series. Extreme as they may be, the exploits of Juha and Mona are presented with a workaday mundanity, which ultimately makes it all the more romantic when the dom and her sub's relationship begins to transcend the physical.

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Juha is a surgeon, and in the brief glimpses of her 9 to 5 life we see that Mona is a physical therapist. Through their BDSM, Juha and Mona are performing a sort of mutual therapy, both exorcising demons of one form or another. What begins as an attempt to reconnect with his dead wife ultimately leads Juha to form the new connection he needs to move on.


dogs don't wear pants review

In a wince-inducing scene, Mona tests Juha's mettle by having him agree to an impromptu tooth extraction, yet while we watch Juha writhe in agony we see a weight lift from Mona's shoulders, and as the two stare into one another's eyes it's clear that their relationship has progressed beyond a series of kinky transactions. Rarely has pain been so romantic.

Recently, the cinema of the Nordic region has been examining such heady subjects as coping with grief and relationships that most of us would consider alarmingly unpalatable. Dogs Don't Wear Pants isn't in the same league as Johannes Nyholm's Koko-Di Koko-Da or Isabella Eklöf's Holiday, but it would slot in nicely to a double bill with either of those films, the ideal cinematic sub to their doms.

Dogs Don't Wear Pants is on VOD now.




2020 film reviews