Subsisting on a diet of hand-to-mouth jobs, homeless man Daniel, as played by Diarmaid Murtagh, walks the wet streets of London with his dog Bruno. However, when Daniel gets caught up in a late-night fight, Bruno suddenly disappears on him. Distraught and bereft at his dog’s disappearance, Daniel tearfully scours the neighbourhood but instead finds a young runaway boy called Izzy. Refusing to leave his side, Daniel begrudgingly allows Izzy to help him search for Bruno, but modern-day London can be a scary place for an unlikely couple searching for a dog that can’t be found…
…gets London right, where so many other movies have it got so wrong.
Deliberately eschewing any big-budget production values or cinematic conventions, director Karl Golden has delivered a tender, heartfelt drama that blurs the lines between documentary grit and a simplistic story unexpectedly told. Much of reason for this lies on the huge, taciturn shoulder of Vikings actor, Diarmaid Murtagh. A big man seemingly wounded by a deep, inner tragedy, both Murtagh manages to infuse Daniel with a leaden hopelessness that dismisses any kind of concern or enquiry. Yet the one character who won’t back down is Malik, a dry-cleaning shop owner, expertly played by Seun Shote. Often suggesting what Daniel might be feeling, Shote’s Malik becomes both a friend to Daniel and a door into Daniel’s inner life. Completing the trio is newcomer Woody Norman, who as runaway Izzy. Mixing both innocence and hurt to create a believable trust int the homeless figure of Daniel, his performance commendably screams vulnerability and need.
Mercifully devoid of any artifice or easy choices in terms of what London has to throw at Daniel and Izzy, Karl Golden’s script admirably shows London’s more feral side, whilst avoiding or any rose-tinted road-maps to third-act redemption. What shocks and scares there are, come as sudden as they are banal in their portrayal, and in doing so, Bruno hints at London’s poverty cracks without ever fully falling through them.
Bound by both their choices and their circumstances, Daniel and Izzy are in fact two open wounds that seemingly can’t be healed. Drifting in a parallel universe where real life brushes past them with touching, Bruno is a superb quest reflected in London pavements that were never made of gold.
Rough and ready film and tonally much like director Stephen Frears’s Dirty Pretty Things, it gets London right, where so many other movies have it got so wrong. See Bruno if you can. Much like the homeless world that it traverses, it’s unlikely to announce its presence but it’s still a diamond in the rough waiting to be found.