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  • Hounddog
    • Hounddog
    • Runtime:102 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-17 12:20:11
    • Director: Deborah Kampmeier
    • Genres: Drama, Music
    • Studio:


This film is sheer brilliance. I love it, and it was an emotional film,
which I am a fan of. It sounds to me like all of these people heard
about the movie, got their hopes way to far up and then were let down.
I saw this for the first time today, I never heard any hype about it
because I wasn't into indie-films when it first came out so I had no
pre-conceived notion about this film before watching. The writing is
beautiful, Dakota Fanning's portrayal is amazing. The character of the
father was done so well and all in all this was a wonderful movie. I
don't think it was meant to have a clear cut "this is the point of the
movie". Not all movies are like that and not all movies should be like
that. This is a real and raw film and truly heart breaking. Most of the
reviewers who reviewed this movie are way off base because I thought
this was wonderful.


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sometimes I think that people(especially people who write reviews of
movies)either forget that it's just a movie, or are reviewing based on
their feelings toward the characters and subject matter. Hounddog is
not a masterpiece, sure. But it's not unwatchable. At least the music
is good, unlike similar movies that have a strong musical theme. Elvis
is the worst music in the movie! But once again, Americans show by
their reaction to this movie that violence is still a more acceptable
theme than sexuality, and that rape is still not considered a violent
assault, but an unwanted sexual encounter(I had forgotten about the
controversy, even while watching the movie, I guess because I didn't
see as sexual at all). Dakota Fanning is very sensual in this movie
though, which I'm sure makes a lot of people very uncomfortable. My
biggest complaint about this movie is that it's somewhat vague, until
the part where they force resolve on us like a 1/2 hour sitcom. I think
it's still worth watching though.


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hounddog is a movie about many things people (including the author),
love to hate about the Old South. The director, Deborah Kampmeier,
resorts to cliché after cliché to tell her half-baked story that I'll
get mentioning in a few lines. She set the story in the south for no
plot necessary reason, and layers our expectations with even more
expectations. All of the young white adults are pitiable, uneducated
characters who have no control over their lives. The old one is a
hard-lined Christian nut, and the black people are oppressed yet
compassionate because they are black. This story's only noteworthy
player is Fanning's character Lewellen. She is a preteen girl,
admittedly a caricature herself, who was fortunately played by someone
who delights the audience with her rendition of Scout Finch.

She resides with her alcoholic father and enjoys swimming in the river
and Elvis LPs. She has to move in with her strict grandmother when a
cartoon thunderbolt strikes her father while he is mowing the lawn.
Seriously, this happens for no reason and demonstrates the film's low
budget. The CG effect is laughably obvious.

Lewellen is in the summer before physical womanhood. She has as much
fun playing dress up as she does offering boys kisses for peeks at
their penises. She is totally unaware of how much of a woman she is
going to be. The director plays on her innocence and includes a scene
of particular cruelty made worse by our attachment to Lewellen as
enhanced by Fanning's accent and method acting.

Lewellen wakes up one morning and is greeted by a lascivious milkman.
The poor guy has enough pimples to fit the ugly
never-going-to-have-a-girlfriend stereotype you forgot that you had.
You probably forgot about it because you aren't used to directors
pigeonholing their audiences into such obvious setups.

The milkman entices Lewellen with the promise that he will give her
tickets to an Elvis concert. He meets her in a barn and asks her to
strip and perform "Hound Dog," after which he rapes her. The scene is
framed in such a way that we don't see him committing the act. It is
not intended to be exploitative. The camera moves over her anguished
face and her hand is gouged on a nail. The blood flows from her hand so
you can see the coming adulthood metaphor in case the rape wasn't

Like the lightning bolt, the rape scene isn't required. It's a slap in
the face to the audience that has been encouraged to grow attached to
the character. I'm not offended by the rape itself, even given the age
of the victim. I'm angry that the director uses it as an attempt to
resuscitate her story. This story doesn't merit putting us through it.
Lewellen does get better with the help of the token black characters,
and the film finally ends.

Hounddog was a critical and commercial failure and may have caused the
end to Kampmeier's carrier. Fanning's portrayal of Lewellen is worth
watching, especially the visceral way she interprets the trauma of the
rape. It doesn't mean you should watch movie, but it may provide a
director with a glimpse into her range for a horror or thriller.


A barefoot, backwoods pre-teenage girl in the 1950s Deep South, in love
with Elvis Presley's music and with a budding interest in boys,
comes-of-age one summer after her father is struck by lightning,
leaving her vulnerable to the elements. Dakota Fanning attempts to
carry this heavy-handed vehicle all by herself, but it's an impossible
task. Writer-director Deborah Kampmeier has no sense of character
development, and her timing and details seem askew (at one point, Elvis
appears on an old TV set, but obsessed fan Dakota barely seems to take
notice). The film garnered a bit of film-festival backlash after news
of a rape scene involving Fanning was leaked to the press, but that
sequence isn't nearly as disturbing as an earlier one where Grammie
Piper Laurie stares strangely at the youngster standing up in the
bathtub (is Kampmeier trying to say this girl isn't safe around
anybody?). The locations are well-captured, and there are nice
supporting performances from Afemo Omilami as a black horse trainer who
introduces Fanning to the blues and Robin Wright Penn as the child's
promiscuous aunt. Otherwise, these muddled results are entrenched in
murky waters. *1/2 from ****

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