Debra Granik forays into documentary making with Stray Dog, focusing on the protagonist in his daily routine. The movie begins as an ellipsis and ends like one too. The movie has a runtime of 98 minutes. The director met a Vietnam veteran during the shooting of Winter’s Bone where he was an extra.
Ronnie Hall is an un-authoritative and stubborn individual. He attempts to explain parenting to his granddaughter, how to make adjustments and avoid living off government welfare. Ronnie Hall is a caring yet stern figure, yet filled with compassion for his grandchildren. He is a soft man on the inside, having humility, pride and love. Ronnie Hall is shown as a nice, kindhearted person tormented with a pained past and takes comfort in the fact that some strings will remain attached to him.
Amazingly, the protagonist is no warmonger. On the contrary, the war caused him immense mental pain and he doesn’t hide his emotions. A good part of Hall’s life involves traveling around the country on his motorcycle, attending ceremonies for fallen soldiers. He spends a good deal of time exploring the country on his motorcycle attending ceremonies for deceased soldiers. He is the portrayal of a true American hero. After arriving in USA after a second stint in Vietnam, Ronnie Hall, nicknamed Stray Dog, discovers much to his displeasure how he is disliked in his country so he takes a step back and goes to Korea for 11 years, where he discovers people like him.
The movie is honest, which is also confirmed by the protagonist’s response to the rocking horse question. No voice-overs are used in this movie. There are no flashbacks of the past and no one talks directly to the camera. The director focuses intently on the man, listens to everyone about the past events and builds trust in these simple moments.
The movie gives a firsthand experience of the government’s failure to defend/ care for those who fought for it on foreign shores. On the other hand, they serve the humanity constantly from the goodness of their heart. The director and protagonist clinched the aim of the movie movingly.
Photo credit: Stray Dog the movie