Monday, September 23, 2013


Directed by Jorge Ameer

Is this ... love?
Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

I'll throw down the gauntlet. Want to see some REALLY FUCKED-UP SHIT?

Now, I don't know where you want to go with this relationship --
The films of Jorge Ameer always entertain. They’re not always good, but they always entertain. His early feature THE SINGING FOREST (2003)was notable for a reincarnation plot involving Nazi concentration camp victims, featuring well-fed prisoners and very uneven, hand-drawn Swastikas on armbands. In the supernatural drama THE HOUSE OF ADAM (2006), the characters freak out if a front door unexpectedly swings open but remain calm and collected when encountering a man tied to a chair for torture.

In D’AGOSTINO, Ameer raises the bar very high. Dissatisfied American yuppie Allan Dawson (Keith Roenke)  lives with his fiance Sylvia (Torie Tyson) in London. She is quite a bit older than he, which may explain his sudden outburst heard at the film’s beginning – “What do fat and ugly people think they look like?” Things are mundane and boring until Sylvia says, “Your grandmother left you some property.” Did his grandmother die? She doesn’t say. “Your grandmother left you some property in Greece.” So Allan jets over to Greece. The “property” is a very nice candle-lit apartment. Allan takes some time to sight-see, and then returns to the apartment that night. Looking behind a heavy oaken door, Alan discovers a disgusting human male (Michael Angels) covered in feces tied up in a tiled room. Slamming the door behind him, Allan takes a hot shower … goes back to sleep … wakes up the next day … does some more sight-seeing … has some lunch …

Yes, none of it makes any sense, but perhaps it's not supposed to. Allan doesn't TELL anyone about the horror lurking in his apartment, in what amounts to a twisted agenda. Later that night, Allan showers his new-found friend off, notes a dog collar that lists his name as D'Agostino and checks his trusty laptop. “I see that you're a secret clone bred for organ harvesting,” the smug Allan says – as if this would be posted online – from a dog tag that has no URL address. The barking, yelping D'Agostino has the mentality of a newborn baby trapped in the body of a young man, and Allan seizes the opportunity to put him on a leash and teach him a few, uh, “tricks.” It's exactly what you think it is.

Very little, other than nonstop mental and sexual degradation of the title character continues for the rest of D'AGOSTINO's two-plus hour running time. Other than a pushy landlord (played by director Ameer himself) seems to interrupt the two mens' sadistic idyll. The viewer continues to watch the film as if to ask themselves, “why am I watching this?” Why ineptly told, D'AGOSTINO hammers home a classic fable of all the horrible things that happen when a human being considers another human being as being less than such.

It falls apart at the end when D'Agostino symbolically eats from “the tree of knowledge,” i.e. Allan's laptop for an ending straight out of an EC horror comic book. Allan gets his comeuppance, but its not what the ending COULD have been.

D'AGOSTINO calls to mind such favorites as SALO: 120 DAYS OF SODOM (1975). It also recalls, with its minimal cast, single setting, Greek locale and sadomasochistic games the cult favorite SINGAPORE SLING (1991) and art house fave DOGTOOTH (2009). In either case, D'AGOSTINO is the rare kind of movie that I wholeheartedly recommend to everyone – knowing full well that lots of them will ABSOLUTELY hate it. See it – it's not a good film, but remains a highly unique viewing experience. 

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