Hounddog (Sundance Film Review)

Posted by Tim Posada On 4:48 PM
Pre-viewing controversy surrounding Hounddog turned out to be more interesting than the film itself. Dakota Fanning is a very talented actor, but her ability to fascinate a crowd with her youthful performance could not deter the lack of intrigue built into the screenplay of Hounddog. Hounddog is about a little girl who is forced to grow up too quickly, lacking sufficient support from her family. Lewellen (Fanning) is able to be a playful youth until her father is struck by lightning and can no longer take care of himself. Add to this a stereotypically fire, brimstone, and whisky Christian grandmother, and Lewellen must forget about a happy life. Her only joy is in the music of Elvis—particularly his rendition of “Hounddog.” It is this redition that the stereotypically pimpled face milk boy sees Lewellen perform and halfway through the film rapes her. This was not an exploitive seen, and actually was not a strong enough event in the plot to matter—it should have occurred earlier in the film. And yet another stereotype (the black man as primitive witch doctor there to serve the interests of surrounding white), the neighbour and snake export helps Lewellen come to terms with her demons by singing the one song she feels caused her rape. But she sings “Hounddog” in its original context before Elvis redid it for a white audience. This is the only redeeming moment in this incredibly boring and over-dramatized film. The continually changing context of “Hounddog” creates an interesting look at the power of music to seduce and liberate. Unfortunately, the film is simply boring and relies on one-dimensional characters that have been created through far too many Deep South period pieces before this one.

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