Foam At The Mouth (Ar Putam uz Lupam) (2017)

Foam At The Mouth (Ar Putam uz Lupam) first publsihed by EyeforFilm

Opening with a disturbing shot of a giant boar not so much wallowing as writhing in the forest mud, this third feature from Latvian writer/director Janis Nords sets the animal and human worlds into collision. Still recovering from an unspecified accident that has left him with an artificial leg and persistent spinal problems, ex-cop Didzis (Vilis Daudzins) rears and trains a trio of police dogs to attack on command. As his wife Jana (Ieva Puke), a school sports therapist with a love of lying, embarks tentatively upon an illicit affair with 17-year-old pupil Roberts (Raimonds Celms), she crashes her car into a rabid boar, bringing its infection home with her on the vehicle’s bumper. Racked with pain, jealousy and an angry sense of his own uselessness, Didzis circles Roberts in encounters that are increasingly vicious on both sides – and once unleashed, this increasingly violent love/hate triangle blinds Didzis to what is going on with his beloved dogs.

Although Foam at the Mouth (Ar Putam uz Lupam) is at heart an intense character study of three vulnerable people caught at a crossroads in their lives as they become infected with deceit, recrimination and unhinged rage, its closest analogue is, improbably, John Carpenter’s SF horror The Thing (1982). For here too there is the snowy setting, the (emotionally, at least) isolated characters, and the contagious condition of madness (both metaphorical and literal) carried in from the cold by dogs. Unfolding mostly in a mode of wintry social realism, but with an occasional drift into stylised canine dreams, Nords’ film reduces its human characters to their most animalistic instincts and appetites, and expertly compounds its tensions to breaking point. 

© Anton Bitel