Peggy is single, childless, in her 40s, a lonely executive assistant in a friendly office. Her dog Pencil is the love of her life, and when he dies after eating some sort of toxin, Peggy's life spins out of her control: a friendly neighbor invites her for dinner; a friendly staff member at her vet's calls with an abused dog he recommends she adopt - she does, and also finds herself attracted to this fellow. She becomes a vegan, supports animal-rights causes, and embroils her brother's young children in these concerns. Saving dogs and other animals become such a passion that her mental health and her job may be in danger. Are regaining control and finding love beyond her reach? Written by
I am actually tempted to call it "heartwarming" though I've never used that term to compliment a film. Each character is a balance between an exaggerated stereotype and frighteningly accurate portrayal. White treats his characters with subtlety and respect while allowing them to be as ridiculous as we modern humans are. Laura Dern is a genius with her painful and precise rendition of a sterile post-modern mother. As are all the leads; wonderful to see so-called "character actors" given space to breathe. If you were looking for "school of rock" or "orange county" you may be disappointed, but if you were intrigued and moved by "chuck & buck" "year of the dog" might hit the mark. This film felt, at times, reminiscent of the work of Todd Solondz, in that the characters can be both absurd and realistic simultaneously, and (as I see it) both directors are careful to avoid exploiting their characters. White's story is more traditional and warm than most of Solondz's work, though, many viewers will likely find "dog" exclusively "too depressing" or just "funny", and probably not "funny" enough.
Overall: Really lovely and well crafted little film that is both serious and silly, without being melodramatic or wacky: a triumph considering the subject matter. It has already landed a spot near the top of my short list of favorite recent films (its a desert out there these days, this is a glass of pink lemonade).
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