COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 33min
STARRING: Josh Lucas, Rachael Taylor, Koko
Animal magnetism: Koko and Lucas
If you’re lucky, maybe once in your life you’ll get to know and love a truly great dog. The four-footed star of this rough-nut sweetener from director Kriv Stenders is exactly that animal: when cheeky kelpie Red Dog (played with starry panache by Koko) turns up out of the blue in the Western Australia whistle-stop of Dampier in 1971, he charms the work boots off its boys’ club of miners in no time at all. Everyone rejoices in Red’s generous spirit, but it’s the American bus driver with the movie-star looks, John (Lucas), who wins his unwavering affection while also captivating secretary Nancy (Taylor). Not that there’s much competition in the heart-throb department…
There really was a Red Dog, although how many of his celebrated adventures actually happened is open to debate. But that doesn’t matter in the least: related in flashbacks over one night, the loosey-goosey goodwill of Daniel Taplitz’s screenplay, based on Louis de Bernière’s 2001 novel, celebrates a maverick Australian spirit that frazzled citysiders will never have the gift of knowing. Joyous and moving, it’s a tale that grows in the telling into a folkloric love story.