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Review: "Heart of a Dog" (2015)


Title: Heart of a Dog (2015)

Genre: Documentary

Director: Laurie Anderson

Stars (primary actors): Laurie Anderson, Lolabelle (the dog), Lou Reed

Bias: Laurie Anderson’s work does not follow a conventional narrative structure. Though the storytelling is delivered in clear vignettes, the work in its totality meanders in a dreamy fashion. This may not immediately appeal to those viewers who prefer a direct anchor to a traditional plot, but that should not deter anyone from giving it a go. Its quiet wisdom should appeal to anyone.

Grade: A

In a Nutshell: This movie is an homage by an artist to her deceased dog, Lolabelle. It presents candid visuals of home movie footage and drawings as Anderson narrates the ambling tale. Beyond the history of the pup, there is a deeper contemplation of the nature of relationships, memory, and the meaning and essence of being.

The Critique: Laurie Anderson is known for her performance art and experimental electronic compositions. Her pieces tend to be deceptively simplistic, philosophical and punchy, and this movie is surely an extension of that aesthetic. Bittersweet in tone, it is honest, touching, and the complete antithesis of the cinema of shock and spectacle that viewers are drowning in today. The soft imagery that often drifts in hazy slow motion is lovely to look at, but a bit repetitive. Still, though the film may have been enriched by a greater diversity of footage, there is something psychologically beneficial to forcing oneself to stay put. What begins as suffering can end in meditative release. Perhaps Anderson has presented her vision of a visual Buddhist praxis of cinema here.

Shout-out(s): Fans of Lou Reed will find some touching imagery, especially at the end of the film.

To Go, to Rent, or to Netflix: It would be a treat to watch in the dedicated viewing arena of the cinema, but it’s currently available through Amazon Prime. Image from independent.co.uk.

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