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The Essential Guide to Bristol
15 January 2010
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Dogging: A Love Story (18)

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Review byMatthew Turner23/12/2009

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 103 mins

Disappointing British romcom that struggles to find the balance between smutty sex comedy and sweet-natured romance and ultimately fails due to a cop-out script and unlikeable characters.

What's it all about?
Directed by Simon Ellis, Dogging: A Love Story stars Luke Treadaway as Dan, a would-be journalist attempting to get his first article by investigating the Newcastle dogging scene - a practice in which people have public sex in parked cars, watched by strangers. Guided by his boorish estate agent cousin Rob (Richard Riddell), a keen dogging enthusiast, Dan's story soon begins to take shape but his relationship with his own girlfriend Tanya (Sammy T Dobson) suffers as a result.

Meanwhile, Dan strikes up a friendship with Laura (Kate Heppell), a sexually curious student he meets in an online chat room, who, in turn, is being pursued by would-be pimp Jim (Michael Socha).

The Good
The stand-outs of the film are Michael Socha, whose initially annoying, stalkerish behaviour as Jim eventually reveals a surprisingly sweet side, and Richard Riddell, who has a lot of fun making Rob as objectionable as possible. Heppell is cute and likeable as Laura but Treadaway is whiny and irritating as Dan, whilst the film's obvious contempt of Dobson's character is a little hard to stomach.

The Bad
The film's biggest problem is that it can't decide whether it wants to be a sweet-natured romantic comedy or a smutty sex-fest and it struggles to find the right tone as a result. Worse still, it quickly becomes apparent that the script has no interest in actually exploring dogging or explaining what people might get out of it and instead views it as a flimsy excuse to get the lads’ mag crowd in by showing a bit of wobbly night-vision nudity in cars.

On top of that, the romance angle is badly handled, so that you never really care if the characters get together or not, whilst the script constantly cops out and is nowhere near as edgy and provocative as it thinks it is.

Worth seeing?
Despite strong work from its supporting cast, Dogging: A Love Story remains something of a disappointment, thanks to an irritating lead character and a poorly developed script that doesn't know what to do with its potentially intriguing premise.

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