Caleb Landry Jones is “DogMan,” whatever that moniker means.

The indie actor, who has appeared in the acclaimed likes of “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri” and “Nitram,” leads controversial French director Luc Besson‘s latest feature. Per the elusive logline, “DogMan” tells the story of a man who, following a traumatic childhood, finds salvation and justice through his connection with dogs.

Yet, there’s more to the twisted crime thriller than just that: Jones plays Douglas Munrow, a victim of childhood abuse who relives his past while being interviewed by a psychiatrist (Jojo T. Gibbs) after Douglas is accused of murder. Turns out Douglas’ childhood was far from fetching, with his only source of love being the dogs his father (Clemens Schick) would lock him in cages with. (To note, writer-director Besson was inspired to pen the film after reading an article about a French family that locked their child in a cage at the age of five.)

As an adult, Douglas balances performing in drag as iconic stars like Edith Piaf, Marlene Dietrich, and Marilyn Monroe with a crime spree.

“DogMan” is Besson’s first film since 2019’s “Anna.” The feature debuted at the 2023 Venice Film Festival, where IndieWire’s Ryan Lattanzio noted that Besson and Jones spent a year preparing for the “visibly soul- and body-consuming role.”

“But the central core of ‘Dogman’ — Landry Jones as a grown-up survivor of childhood brutality who tries to forge an empowered identity beyond it — gets lost in Besson’s tendency to overstate through combat, gore, and over-the-top, heist-y genre business,” Lattanzio wrote in the review. “‘Dogman’ isn’t quite sure what it’s trying to say with regard to gender expression and the fluidity of Douglas’ identity, even if Landry Jones may be. […] There are no labels, and Douglas’ romantic or sexual life isn’t one Besson is keen to explore. There’s something just a hair troubling here about how ‘Dogman’ seems to draw a tenuous line from abuse to eventual adulthood queerness.”

“DogMan” is produced by Virginie Besson-Silla and features music composed by Eric Serra. Besson produced the film under his LBP EuropaCorp banner.

“DogMan” premieres in select theaters March 29 and expands April 5 from Briarcliff Entertainment. Check out the new trailer below.

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