Lawn Dogs

Director: John Duigan
Screenwriters: Naomi Wallac

Institute History

  • 1998 Sundance Film Festival


Ten-year-old Devon Stockard has moved with her social-climber parents to Camelot Gardens, a walled southern community for the newly rich. A lonely child lost in a fantasy world, she strikes up an incongruous and dangerous friendship with Trent, mower of the Gardens’ impeccable lawns. Poor and marginalized, he lives beyond the walls in a run-down, vine-covered trailer hidden in a forest clearing. Ever the stoic loner, he is taunted by neighborhood bullies and constantly stalked by a security guard who suspects him, the only outsider, as the source of a string of petty crimes. With her chance discovery of his forest hideout, Devon begins to mold, with dogged persistence and Machiavellian skill, her friendship with Trent. His stubborn hostility and desire to be left alone prove futile; instead, a common bond is slowly forged out of their common status as misfits. The secret sympathy between Devon and Trent violates the unwritten laws of Camelot, and when it is discovered in the closing minutes of the film, Lawn Dogs moves to an explosive, violent, and surprising climax.

In a return to a theme which he has exploited so well in the past, director John Duigan combines a fairy-tale-like portrayal of the problematic passage from childhood to adolescence with a skillful contrast of social classes and a uniquely contoured dramatic structure. Rising star Sam Rockwell creates a totally convincing Trent, at times delicate, at times sinewy, while actress Mischa Barton brings off a haunting performance as the dreamy but manipulative Devon.

John Duigan, Director
Born in Hartley-Wintmey, England, John Duigan was raised in Australia. He majored in philosophy and history at the University of Melbourne and was a member of the Pram Factory theatre group. He has published a novel Players and a book for teenagers, Room to Move. Duigan has written and directed for both film and television, notably the miniseries “Vietnam.” His films include Winter of Our Dreams, The Year My Voice Broke, Flirting, Wide Sargasso Sea, Sirens, and The Journey of August King.

— Nicole Guillemet

Screening Details

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