If you find the October heat unbearable, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Jordan Schiele’s Dog Days, a Chinese film, takes you through the world’s most populated country in its hottest days ever. As the story progresses, you can see a clear distinction of the isolated interior areas of China from its more affluent coast. There is a vast difference in the number of people, their lifestyles, and the environment. But one thing remains common – the heat, symbolically referring to the struggle. Dog Days follows the story of a young dancer and her search for her lost boyfriend and child. The relationships that are formed and broken along the way are greatly unexpected, yet come as a sweet surprise.
It was a regular day at work for Lulu (Lu Huang), until she comes home to find her boyfriend and baby missing. Ignoring the heckles and judgments being thrown at her, she begins her search for them. On the way, she meets a drag queen dancer Sunny, who she suspects knows something about her boyfriend Bai Long's whereabouts. After much persuasion, he reveals that he is Bai Long’s gay lover and they were planning to run away to the city. Initially shocked, Lulu comes to terms with the truth, letting them go their way as long as she gets to keep the baby. Sunny agrees to her condition, and the two embark on the journey to the city. After learning that Sunny brought Lulu along, Bai Long kicks Sunny out of his hotel room. Lulu finds out that Bai Long sold the baby to a wealthy couple. Leaving him, she goes in search of this couple along with Sunny, who helps her find them. Lulu is now faced with a new decision – should she bring her baby back or let him live with the couple who could provide him with a brighter future?
When it comes to grappling with the emotions of a mother who has lost her baby to someone else, the movie does a good job. Lulu’s misery, hope and determination are finely portrayed by Lu Huang, her emotions resonating well with the audience. Sunny’s character, in contrast, is starkly different. While Lulu comes to the city with feelings of despair and loneliness, he is full of hope, only for his life to be turned around. This is the character you’d feel for, even though Lulu is the star of the film. Schiele, who made his Chinese film debut with this movie, has done a great job portraying the struggles of the main characters while making us sweat through 95 minutes of their tribulations. What does not work is that some scenes are unnecessary and stretched too far.
The movie ends on a somber note and for the masala-loving Indian audience, this one is an absolute no-no. But watch this movie if you’re up for an emotional trial of unrequited love.