Film Review – Stray (2020)

Title – Stray (2020)

Director – Elizabeth Lo (feature debut)

Cast – Zeytin, Nazar, Kartal

Plot – Follows the day to day goings about of Zeytin, a stray dog on the streets of the sometimes harsh, sometimes caring city of Istanbul.

“Nothing bothers someone who lives day to day”

Review by Eddie on 02/08/2021

In 2016 we got a look at the life of untamed cats that roam the ancient streets of Turkish city Istanbul with the lovable little documentary Kedi, so its only right that now we have a look at the other paw thanks to Elizabeth Lo’s documentary Stray, that this time around follows the adventures of wild street dogs including the films main focus Zeytin.

Mostly wordless and only featuring humans when its absolutely needed, Stray is literally a dogs eye view of life on the streets of the hustling and bustling city that has a blanket ban on anyone owning or hunting stray animals, meaning dogs just like their feline friends have free reign across the city to explore and enjoy as they rustle out an existence in the harsh but also sometimes beautifully warm world they find themselves in.

Proving once more that pictures can tell a thousand words, Lo has done well in keeping Stray in tune with its unique animal centric delivery and while there is no real plot to hold onto in a typical sense of what a narrative might be, Stray never falters in its 70 minute run-time as it holds our attention as Zeytin and her friends Nazar and the adorable puppy Kartal journey alongside one another and some lost human immigrants who all find solace in one another’s company.

Anyone who counts themselves a dog fan will instantly recognise the human parallels that can be found in this tale and particularly Zeytin’s trials and tribulations and whether its about finding ones place in the world or being one of those almost invisible bystanders as life and others pass you by, Stray and Lo have an honest way of exploring everyday life that feels relatable and warm for anyone that lives in the now.

The film may’ve benefited from more focus or a designated end goal but at days end Stray is an often adorable examination of a dogs way of life and one that refuses to shy away from the harsh realities of such an existence, even if the splattering’s of warmth and love ensure you as a viewer are reminded that in life, the good often far outweighs the bad if we just keep pressing on.

Final Say – 

Never outstaying its welcome and beautifully capturing life on the streets of Istanbul, warts and all, Stray is a neat companion to the feline Kedi and a must-watch for any die-hard canine fans.

3 1/2 bones out of 5  

2 responses to “Film Review – Stray (2020)

  1. Loved this documentary, particularly the focus on how immigrants and dogs were basically treated the same but the city there chose to look after the dogs, first and foremost, which also says a lot about society.

    Found it really beautifully made!

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