Baxter' looks at life through a dog's eyes

May 10, 1991|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Sun Film Critic

Look at him. Cute widdle doggie. His eyes are bright, his tongue hangs out wetly. What can he be thinking? -- "I love you, Master," "I will obey you, Master," perhaps even, "You are a god, Master."

Or possibly, "I would like to eat you, human scum."

The French director Jerome Boivin certainly prefers the latter. His haunting, provocative "Baxter," opening today at the Charles, is a dog's eye view of the human race, deconstructed of anthropomorphizing sentimentality. It's "Benji" with attitude.

"Baxter" takes our hero through three human households in pursuit of a perfect master. The fascination of the piece is that Boivin absolutely refuses to sentimentalize the dog.

First, Baxter is sent to an old lady's home. He wins her over with some elementary cuddliness, but his easy victory breeds contempt. He decides to kill her.

He moves in with a perfect suburban family. He likes the way the woman smells; it makes him think of sex. But into this Eden comes a baby, which spoils the harmony. Mom n' Pop love the way Baxter tries to protect the child. Actually, Baxter's trying to kill it.

Finally he meets the perfect human: fearless, dispassionate, the god Baxter has yearned for. Alas, he's a teen-age boy who thinks he's Adolph Hitler.


Starring Lisa Delamare and Jacques Spiesser.

Directed by Jerome Boivin.

Released by Backstreet Films.


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