When it comes to the portrayal of the bond between humans and man’s best friend, a dog, movies like ‘Hachiko’, ‘Call of the Wild’ have set a benchmark. Having a dog in the movie is a sure-shot formula to elicit that “aww”, “he is so cute” reaction from the audience.
In reality, while having a pet reinvigorates you, losing the same can drive you to the brink. Dealing with the same theme is ‘Dog Gone’ on Netflix.
Based on a fascinating but heavily altered true story, the 95 minutes long movie is strong on emotions, content, and performance.
Fielding Marshall (Johnny Berchtold) is a graduate who is yet to find his calling. One day, he chances upon, a pup in a pound and decides to raise him. However, Fielding’s parents, especially his father John, are not comfortable with their son having a dog as they think he is not mature enough to care for him.
Fielding’s mother slowly warms up to Gonker, as he is fondly called. He reminds her of Oji, a dog she had as a kid. Slowly, even Fielding’s father (a brilliantly cast Rob Lowe) and Gonker too get along well.
As fate would have it, this happy time is rudely interrupted when Gonker takes ill and vets tell Fielding that he would need a shot every 30 days for the rest of his life. This diagnosis sets the tone for another twist in the tale. Once out with Fielding, Gonker gets lost as he goes chasing a fox.
Now, Fielding is engulfed with guilt that he proved his father’s assessment of him right and put Gonker in danger. He is also battling a serious ailment. But putting it aside, he embarks upon a journey to find Gonker back as he needs to find him before the next shot is due, which is just 20 days away.
Ginny Marshall, the mother, played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley too gets into action mode and sets up a command center at home to force multiply Fielding and his father’s efforts to trace Gonker. The hunt proves to be a bonding exercise for the sometimes-at-loggerheads father and son. They both start understanding each other well. Surprisingly, this forms the major portion of the story. The father-son story takes the centre stage and the duo goes through a whole gamut of emotions. You get Gonker in the first 30-40 minutes and then in the last 10 minutes but he is still the raison d’etre of this wonderful drama.
‘Dog Gone’ literally tugs at the audience’s heartstrings. Dog movies generally do. However, giving due credit to the screenplay, it’s not only Gonker’s track but also the father-son story that makes your heart melt. It’s kahani ghar ghar ki and hence everyone can connect with it easily. It’s here where you find some high moments of the movie.
Michael Martinez’s camera work treats us to some fantastic verdant landscape as not only the Marshalls but the entire town gets into a search mode for Gonker.
The strength of the story by Nick Santora lies in the fact that Gonker’s angle is used as a backdrop but at the same time it emerges as the major plot. And still, enough room is left for human emotions captured poignantly by Stephen Herek, the director.
Thanks to a heart-warming story and genuine performances, ‘Dog Gone’ warms the cockles of not only dog parents but also those who do not have pets. It tells us about the importance and power of love and bonding humans have among themselves and with their pets without getting preachy.
In this dog-eat-dog world, if you are feeling dog-tired, Gonker and co.’s decent family drama is bound to make you feel good. So, stop barking up at the wrong tree and enjoy the canine carnival playing on Netflix....