Hounddog movie poster
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Hounddog movie poster

Hounddog Movie Review

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Dakota Fanning headlines the controversial drama Hounddog, a movie best known for featuring a rape scene of the young actress. Directed by Deborah Kampmeier, Hounddog features strong acting and a good screenplay, but it fades in the end as it fails to get to the point.

Hounddog is about a young girl named Lewellen (Fanning), who has become quite independent over the years as her father (David Morse) skips town from time to time, effectively leaving her to fend for herself. One day, though, her dad is struck by lightning, turning him into a mental cripple. Aided by her grandmother, Lewellen takes to caring for him, even though her real aspirations are to meet Elvis. But in her desperation to get tickets, her innocence is stolen, her future apparently shattered.

For the most part, Hounddog is a very good picture. The movie looks great, and though not a lot happens in it, Kampmeier keeps it moving along at a steady clip. Led by Fanning, who gives her best performance since 2005's War of the Worlds, the movie does a good job of establishing her character's innocence before stripping it all away. Fanning is one of those rare child stars that proves she will undoubtedly make that tough transition to adult actress; though she has always carried herself well beyond her years, Hounddog represents her most challenging and mature role yet.

David Morse is also very good in what could have easily been an over-the-top and cheesy character.

Hounddog is good, until it isn't. After the rape scene - which isn't as explicitly graphic as some would expect - Kampmeier seems lost as to where to take the film and eventually conclude it. The picture still works, but it never works toward anything resolute, other than Lewellen once again finding her love of music. It's a touching moment, but not one that properly concludes a drama such as this.

Hounddog is worth seeing for Fanning's performance and is an all-around good movie, but its so-so ending fails to inspire.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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