Both masculinity and the function of mercenaries come under fire in Gregoris Rentis’ highly entertaining debut documentary, Dogwatch. The film follows three private armed guards at different stages of their careers in safeguarding ships from piracy when crossing the High Risk Area off the Somali coastline. Striking a balance between observation and simulation, it is a highly stylised account of men whose very presence undermines their objective: “Be confident in the fact that any ship with armed guards has never been hijacked,” they are told.
The men hope to fight Somali pirates and return home as heroes but, for ships protected by armed guards, Somali hijackings are extremely unlikely. Instead, Rentis captures the enjoyable irony of hyper-charged masculinity at sea. Rentis’ sense of humour has a touch of Greek cinema’s recent ‘weird wave’ about it, with specific echoes of Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Chevalier, which comically roasted toxic masculinity between a group of friends holidaying on a boat.
Tara Judah, Screen Daily
Flirting with fiction genre conventions within the documentary form, this sometimes arresting, erratically revealing film often most closely recalls minimalist dramatic explorations of martial masculinity like Beau Travail and Jarhead. – – But as a sort of impressionistic triptych probing the daily realities of a singular (though no longer rare) career path, Dogwatch is always intriguing, and often surprisingly poetical.
Dennis Harvey, Variety