Quality Children's Entertainment Family Movie Reviews

Stray * Brilliant Film About Three Beautiful Dogs Living on the Streets of Istanbul

Stray explores what it means to live as a being without status or security, following three strays as they embark on inconspicuous journeys through Turkish society. Zeytin, fiercely independent, embarks on adventures through the city at night; Nazar, nurturing and protective, easily befriends the humans around her; while Kartal, a shy puppy living on the outskirts of a construction site, finds companions in the security guards who care for her. The strays’ disparate lives intersect when they each form intimate bonds with a group of young Syrians with whom they share the streets. 

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Carlee S. comments, “Stray is a brilliant film about three beautiful dogs living on the streets of Istanbul, Turkey.  Director Elizabeth Lo gives a unique perspective that allows viewers to venture into dogs’ lives and learn a lot about the country of Turkey and the people there, as well. Through the eyes of the dogs we learn about their lives on the streets and the lives of others they interact with.” Joshitha B. adds, “The dog Zeytin is so adorable that no scene feels slow when this dog is in it. There is a particular scene which is incredibly impressive where Zeytin looks distraught and is nearly crying. These dogs have the right expression and demeanor, so credits go to Elizabeth Lo for directing in such a way that the dogs seem like actual actors.” See their full reviews below.

Stray
By Carlee S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Age 16

Stray is a brilliant film about three beautiful dogs living on the streets of Istanbul, Turkey.  Director Elizabeth Lo gives a unique perspective that allows viewers to venture into dogs’ lives and learn a lot about the country of Turkey and the people there, as well. Through the eyes of the dogs we learn about their lives on the streets and the lives of others they interact with.  We gain a better understanding of the people as we overhear conversations the citizens are having which tell us a lot about the personal lives of the people there and the living conditions. For both the dogs and some of the people, there is danger and the struggle to survive.  There are also touching moments. It is an unforgettable film that helps people understand a different part of the world, the people and animals that live there, and that they all have the same basic needs of food, shelter, and friendship. 


This documentary follows three dogs named Zeytin, Nazar and a puppy named Kartal. The camera follows the dogs at their level which is a very ingenious and a creative touch. As the camera rolls, we follow along and see how these dogs interact with other dogs and the humans they encounter. Not only do we get to experience a stray dog’s life, but the lives of a young group of boys also living on the streets. The dogs in Istanbul are allowed to roam around the city freely since the citizens fought to save them. We’re taken into these dogs’ lives and live it with them, seeing all the sights and sounds they see. 

One of my favorite scenes in Stray is when Zeytin is in the park and notices another dog approaching. You can tell from the beginning, when we first get to know Zeytin, that she is a sweet dog. She doesn’t seem to mind the other dogs she comes in contact with and is friendly towards them. Watching Zeytin and the other dogs in the park was very enjoyable. I just loved watching them run around and being very playful. It is a scene that could have been in any part of the world.  I also enjoyed watching the puppy, Kartal. The puppy’s expressions are very sweet and, the way people react to Kartal, it adds a nice touch to the film.

The message in this film is to step up for what you believe in. The citizens of Turkey made sure their voices were heard, so that dogs can freely roam, and are not to be held captive or destroyed. Every life is worth something. The dogs provide comfort to many people there. There are some warnings. Some scenes can be graphic that go with life on the streets. Some of the topics and language spoken by some of the people is also for older viewers.

I give Stray 5 out of 5 stars. I was glued to the screen and I am now a much bigger fan of documentaries after watching this film.  I plan to watch more in the future. I recommend this film to ages 13 to 20. Magnolia Pictures will release Stray in theaters and On Demand on March 5, 2021.

Stray
By Joshitha B.

Stray is a film with a unique concept that is very enlightening to watch from an outsider’s perspective. From the occasional pretty cinematography to the important issues this film highlights, Stray is an extremely well-executed documentary that I really enjoyed watching.  

Stray is a documentary following dogs in Istanbul and it really changes the narrative on how we view stray dogs by witnessing the daily lives of these uncontrollable creatures. This film invokes our empathy by documenting interactions between these stray dogs and humans in their community.

The film has lovely cinematography with plenty of pretty stills that catch your eye throughout the entire film. The aesthetic of this movie is really satisfying for the viewer. Since the main characters are dogs, there is little dialogue in the beginning, and yet the storytelling is very compelling.  The dog Zeytin is so adorable that no scene feels slow when this dog is in it. There is a particular scene which is incredibly impressive where Zeytin looks distraught and is nearly crying. These dogs have the right expression and demeanor, so credits go to Elizabeth Lo for directing in such a way that the dogs seem like actual actors.

The message of this film reflects on our own empathy for outsiders or “strays.” We all should do better to improve the lives of our furry friends globally.

I rate Stray 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Stray will be available on digital platforms March 5, 2021.

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