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CANNES 2024 Un Certain Regard

Review: Dog on Trial


- CANNES 2024: Laetitia Dosch directs a zany, funny, intelligent and highly singular first feature centred on a lawyer defending an unprecedented cause

Review: Dog on Trial
Anabela Moreira, Anne Dorval, Laetitia Dosch and François Damiens in Dog on Trial

“It's our society’s fault, it crushes women who feel closer to dogs than to men”, “Is the dog aware of what he's doing?”, “Communication? The master doesn't care, he just wants love from the dog", “There are two entities, the master and the dog. The civil code treats the dog as a thing. But this dog is someone!” Audiences, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for a humorous and witty romp on the edge of absurdity with Dog on Trial [+see also:
interview: Laetitia Dosch
film profile
, the directorial debut of Franco-Swiss actress Laetitia Dosch, presented in the Un Certain Regard programme at the 77th Cannes Film Festival. It's a film that's totally out of the ordinary, but highly masterful in its offbeat singularity. 

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This will be the first dog trial since the Middle Ages, and the media are buzzing with anticipation. The accused? Cosmos, the son of Barbapapa and Chocopix, who Swiss law intends to euthanise for a 3rd bite attack (on a Portuguese cleaning lady sent for facial reconstructive surgery). But Avril (Laetitia Dosch herself), a 39-year-old single woman and lost cause lawyer, doesn't see it that way, touched as she is by the affection between the dog and his owner (François Damiens).

A woman who is generally very insecure, but who is capable of daring antics for the same reason, the lawyer first embarks on a legal battle to redefine the dog's status, paving the way for a trial. But the opposing party (Anne Dorval) is formidable, playing the political card, of a strong Switzerland, of insecurity to be fought and a dog to be eliminated (“we must get rid of this breed”). The craziest controversies (religion, women, paedophilia) enliven the hearings, which are punctuated by legal arguments and expert testimony (notably from a friendly behaviourist played by Jean-Pascal Zadi). All under the questioning gaze of Cosmos, whom Avril gets to know much better...

Buñuel certainly wouldn't have denied such a satirical and metaphorical subject, but Laetitia Dosch (who wrote the screenplay with Anne-Sophie Bailly) imbues it with her own style, rich in jostling emotions (via an inner voice) and baroque finds (for example, the sound of her heart beating faster in the supermarket when she brushes up against a guy she likes). With its fascinating and improbable angle, the extremely funny film oscillates between an almost ‘cartoonish’ or Chaplin-esque spirit and much more serious fundamental questions about difference (“he bites to respond to aggression”) and free will. It's a wild, loquacious cocktail that everyone can interpret to their heart's content.

Dog on Trial was produced by Swiss company Bande à part Films with French company Atelier de Production and co-produced by France 2 Cinéma, RTS and SRG SSR. It is sold internationally by mk2 Films.

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(Translated from French by Margaux Comte)

Photogallery 19/05/2024: Cannes 2024 - Dog on Trial

15 pictures available. Swipe left or right to see them all.

Lætitia Dosch, Jean-Pascal Zadi, Tom Fiszelson, François Damiens, Anabela Moreira
© 2024 Fabrizio de Gennaro for Cineuropa -,

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