Dogging is really just a very British love story

PUBLISHED: 14:05 18 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:37 07 September 2010

Dogging: A Love Story (18) Director Simon Ellis Starring Luke Treadaway, Kate Heppell, Richard Riddell, Sammy Dobson, Justine Glenton, Michael Socha. Released on Boxing Day 103 mins Three star rating In the awkward lull while I wait to see if I m goin

Dogging: A Love Story (18) Director Simon Ellis

Starring Luke Treadaway, Kate Heppell, Richard Riddell, Sammy Dobson, Justine Glenton, Michael Socha. Released on Boxing Day

103 mins

Three star rating

In the awkward lull while I wait to see if I'm going to be able to get to see Avatar, Nine, Sherlock Holmes or even St Trinians 2 in time to cover them before the Christmas break, an opportunity for an early look at this very British sex comedy about the very British sub-culture of standing around in remote car parks observing other people having sex.

Apart from Stan Collymore's cameo in Basic Instinct 2, this is dogging's first contribution to cinema. After making some acclaimed short films, Ellis's first feature is like Sex Life Of The Potato Men reimagined as a film project by a Young British Artist, a sordid Daily Star expose brought to life with a sprinkling of humanity and enchantment.

The opening half hour though is almost unbearably squalid. Work-shy would-be journalist Dan (Treadaway), who spends his dole days lurking on dogging sites and half-fooling himself that he is researching a story, isn't so bad. But watching boorish, ignorant Geordie estate agent Rob (Riddell) is to imagine The Exorcist with Paul Gascoigne replacing Linda Blair. You dread the prospect of spending a whole hour and a half with these characters. However, if you stick with it, a sweeter side is slowly revealed.

Dogging follows the route that Mischief Night took a few years back, taking a harsh contemporary reality and shaping it into a modern-day Shakespearean comedy. Everybody has a mask, a false identity and is with the wrong person but through a series of coincidences they all eventually end up with their real loves.

Sadly Ellis lacks the comic timing to really pull this off but gradually your hostility lessens and somewhere near the end you may even find yourself succumbing to its charms.

It is in the fine tradition of all British sex comedies in that it is neither sexy nor particularly funny.

The world of dogging is just like a British seaside holiday - always cold and raining, lots of people huddled up in their cars to keep warm. It's a great destination for the spirit of the saucy seaside postcard to end up in and a perfect microcosm of contemporary British life, all pent-up rage and an unquenchable nosiness about what everybody else is up to.


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