“Dog Sweat” immediately starts off on a likable note. A couple of Iranian guys are secretly drinking alcohol and arguing the colors of the Johnnie Walker brands. The conversation naturally gets distracted and ill-informed, yet it offers a lot of realism and fun.
The film works best when it has people talking like this. The dialogue is consistently good throughout, but it almost has too much plot to handle. There are several different young men and women who intersect as they struggle with life and love. Setting the film in Iran makes that simple premise incredibly fresh. It’s fascinating how they deal with older cultural philosophies and the strain that puts on the characters.
The women, in particular, are the most interesting part. They are mostly seen as responses to the men in the relationships, but that doesn’t mean they are two-dimensional. They are self-aware about the positions they are in and what they are truly able to do.
The whole movie is plotted like a soap opera, but this is better produced and acted. If the characters were established a bit better at the beginning, it would be easier to follow them through their stories. Instead, it is never as emotional as it could be.
Despite being set in Iran, it isn’t as political as it could be, either. The film is never preachy, just curious as it looks at certain situations. The curiosity is enough to always push the movie forward in a brisk fashion that shows people know what they are doing. Even though this one has its minor flaws, writer/director Hossein Keshavarz is a storyteller whose next film I would be curious to see — especially if he sticks to similar territory with another set of stories because there is no way Iran is as overdone as New York City. This is still a fresh take on a familiar genre.