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Scientific, cold and lacking heart when it proposes to be about the relationship between owner and dog
Although the film is specifically about a relationship between an older man and a dog, I think that the relationship with pets is reasonably universal. OK there are obvious differences between the dynamics of having a dog and those of having a lizard but generally the nature of the affection and the relationship is similar in most cases. I say this as someone who had a dog for about 8 years and now own 2 cats and for all the animals they became a part of my life to the point I could not imagine being without them and did tend to treat them with an affection that they probably don't deserve as mere animals. Anyway, all this rambling is by way of saying that I was open to this capturing this relationship even if it was not specifically the one I had experienced.
And I genuinely didn't expect the relationship to be like my experiences but somehow I wished they had at least been vaguely similar because as it was I really got no sense of this affection until it is spelt out in the narration in the closing few moments. Up till this point the material is incredibly detached from emotions and almost scientific in its removed observation of Tulip. The film is remarkably crude in its contemplation of her ablutions, her period in heat and so on; I really felt quite confused by this as I was not sure what to take from it. There seemed to very little that was heartfelt or about a sense of companionship in the way I would see it for the majority of the film Tulip came over as almost an insect in a jar.
The animation is refreshingly rough and personal there is more heart in this than in the actual material. Unfortunately the animation amplifies the crudity of the film, showing the biological obsessions of Ackerley and it frequently gives the film even more of a sordid feel. Plummer's narration is nicely warm and if there is an hint of affection in the material then his voice brings it out shame there isn't much to be had.
A really disappointing film then; it proposes to be about the relationship between a man and his dog but presents something that is roundly scientific, cold and lacks any sense of heart or feeling. The animation both helps it be better and also be weaker in different ways.
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