Neither Wolf Nor Dog feels part feature film, part documentary. It is a funny, deeply moving and extremely important film.
Kent Nerburn (Christopher Sweeney) is made an offer he cannot refuse which results in a bizarre road trip with two Native Americans, Lakota elder Dan (Dave Bald Eagle) and his friend Grover (Richard Ray Whitman), neither of whom cut him any slack. Sweeney’s performance as Nerburn is excellent; his uncomfortable charm, inner conflict and frustration perfectly balanced. As the trappings of his modern life fall away, Nerburn begins to understand the intentions of both men. The narrative becomes immersed in the physical and spiritual heart of the vast Dakota plains, their contemporary Native American people, and more emotively a tragic and shameful history.
This is a beautifully shot, fragile film which avoids cliché and is never patronising. Dan appears and disappears as silently as the single buffalo. A heart wrenching monologue begins in the front seat of a Buick and continues by the grave of the fallen at Wounded Knee. Dave Bald Eagle brings a veracity and weight to the film that is utterly mesmerising. The dialogue is sharp and the superb soundscape echoes Dan’s words and prayers as he speaks to the dead.
Neither Wolf Nor Dog is a painful and truthful dialogue between the Indian and the white man. What it lacks in structure it makes up for in honesty and heart, and the humourous symbolism of the final scene is just perfect.
Fri 24 June, 6.05pm, Odeon 2
Sat 25 June, 12.00pm, Filmhouse 3