A movie review of “White God”: Canines rise up against humans after being pushed too far in this live-action dog drama that evokes Dickensian melodrama, coming-of-age tropes and outright horror. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.

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In a war between mean, stupid humans and canine insurgents, don’t bet on the two-legged antagonists.

The dogpocalypse arrives in “White God,” a mixed-genre fable that evokes Dickensian melodrama, coming-of-age tropes and outright horror. The film is also a sociopolitical allegory of sorts about what can happen when a minority population is discriminated against too long and pushed too far.

At the story’s center is 13-year-old Lili (Zsófia Psotta), whose uptight father, Daniel (Sándor Zsótér), casts her mixed-breed dog, Hagen, into the streets for being an unworthy mutt. His disgust with non-purebreds is echoed in remarks by almost everyone in “White God.”

Movie Review ★★★  

White God,’ with Zsófia Psotta, Sándor Zsótér. Directed by Kornél Mundruczó, from a screenplay by Mudruczó, Viktória Petrányi and Kata Wéber. 118 minutes. Rated R for violence and gruesome images. In Hungarian, with English subtitles. SIFF Cinema Egyptian.

Lili and Hagen are separated, and what follows is a series of inhumane events inflicted on the latter. The hardest scenes to watch are of Hagen being tortured (implied only, through creative editing) as part of his training to become a champion dogfighter. That killer instinct radicalizes Hagen when he later leads an army of vengeful dogs seeking blood on the streets of Budapest.

Meanwhile, Lili’s own bumpy path to wisdom turns her into a near-mythic figure. In the film’s breathtaking opening scene (a hint of things to come), she seems almost to be a figurehead for Hagen’s warriors — a Joan of Bark.

“White God” is a marvel on a production level — not so much cinematically exciting as technically stunning. Hungarian co-writer and director Kornel Mundruczo manages to get a stirring performance out of 50 or more dogs, and pulls off quite a few scenes of stark drama and violence involving dogs without resorting to computer effects or, according to reports, on-set mistreatment.

“White God” (the curious title is open to interpretation) is no Disney charmer, but its dark magic — and cautionary fantasy — is in the way sustained human arrogance unleashes the unthinkable.