Sometimes looking back on something overlooked can be a real joy, and such was my experience watching LAWN DOGS from 1997. While the plotting is a bit obvious at times, I found the story to be gripping, and I anticipated a tragic ending.
The greatest joy is watching early performances of two stars who have had long and storied careers. Sam Rockwell is Trent - a seething man with no future, except cutting grass in places like Camelot Gardens, a new subdivision with big houses, curvy sidewalks, no trees, and lots and lots of grass. When Trent meets Devon, a sickly and strange 10-year-old young girl whose parents don’t have a clue, and who believes in a magical forest and the creatures who live there. The two misfits form a bond.
It is lovely to watch these two, using Naomi Wallace’s screenplay and John Duigan’s lovely direction, to maximum effect. No doubt you will think of other narratives with precocious young girls. But as the actions of the outlaw pair raise the stakes in this drama, we prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.
The supporting cast – oddly enough – over plays its hand throughout. Whether the dimwitted parents, or Trent’s well-do-do idiot classmates (including one who may have has and attraction to Trent). There is even a wacky five year kid with a massive skill for costumes and warfare - what?
But that will not diminish your enjoyment of the tale which in the end is beautifully told.