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Raymond De Felitta
Each Thursday, a man approaching middle age calls upon his father, aged, caustic, nihilistic, and emotionally distant, perhaps from the loss of a son in the Boer War and his wife soon after. On this day, the son suggests they attend a visiting guru's lecture on the transmigration of souls. There they chat with a vicar and a soldier of fortune; dinner follows. Over glasses of Hungarian Tokay, the vicar, Dean Spanley, tells a story of friendship, freedom, and reincarnation. In what earthly way could this tale connect father and son? Written by
Peter O'Toole said the use of comedy to explore the relationship between a father and son was part of what attracted him to the film. He remarked: "All of us had difficult familial relationships. I think it's a film for all of us who understand the relationship between a father and son. It's been interesting watching various members of the crew looking at the monitors during scenes. They come up to me then and say "I had the same thing with my father." See more »
Peter O'Toole's character, old Mr. Fiske, believes himself to be impervious to pain. There are things that happen and are simply inevitable. There's no point in mourning. This belief drives a wedge between him and his son (Jeremy Northam), since O'Toole doesn't mourn properly for the loss of his other son or for his wife, who apparently died of grief.
Enter Sam Neill's character, Dean Spanley, who believes himself to be the reincarnation of a dog, and remembers with greatest joy the fun of rolling in dung and tearing apart rabbits. Young Fiske (Northam) discovers this and plies the man with Tokay to get Spanley to open up about his past life. And the Tokay -- supplied by a strange and rough but very funny fellow named Wrather (Bryan Brown) -- works its magic, getting Spanley to reminisce about the good old days as a dog even as both young and old Fiske AND Wrather all realize something critical about the dogs Spanley remembers.
I won't say more, as I don't want to spoil it; I will simply say I loved it. I don't believe in reincarnation, but this is a movie any dog lover can enjoy, as well as anyone who's ever had a strained relationship with a parent or child. You're left with a smile and a bit of mist over the eyes and perhaps a wild impulse to go and roll in some dung, or chase a rabbit.
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