There's a small subgenre of independent cinema that appeals only to the most patient (or masochistic) of filmgoers. This unnamed grouping is usually made up of low-budget foreign films that are character studies at heart, rarely showing much concern for plot, character growth, or any sort of action. For some of us, these films are gold mines of personality and depth; for others they're nightmares of ponderous self-indulgence. Whatever you think of these spare, independent features, The Dog Pound is one of them. Achingly slow and distracted for its first half, the film eventually gains strength and focus, and ends as a piece of affecting, thoughtful filmmaking from Manolo Nieto, a Uruguayan writer-director working alone for the first time.
Though it has a periodic tendency to wander almost at random, the movie centers on Daniel (Pablo Alexandre, a film student appearing on screen for the first time), a lazy, pot-smoking 25-year-old lay-about who lives, rent free, in the holiday cottage of his father (Martín Adjemián), and at first seems content to do so for the foreseeable future. His perfect life of sex, sleep and weed is thrown asunder when his father arrives unexpectedly and, disgusted by the state of David's life, cuts him off. Though his father feels that school -- even on scholarship, which he sees as freeloading on the state -- is essentially a waste of time, he agrees to let Daniel reapply (he's already spent some time at university in Montevideo) if he can finish building a house on the land his father gave him some months ago. Though Daniel brags a lot about his plans for the house, there's not even a foundation laid, and his father has nearly given up.