"Unable to love each other," J.R. Ackerley (Plummer) notes drily, "the English naturally turn to dogs." To be fair, the middle-aged misanthrope, who wrote the eponymous memoir from which this animated feature is adapted, roundly includes himself in that slap and tickle of an edict. Love his four-legged friend he does, with an intensity fortunately matched by his anxious, highly intelligent Alsatian, Tulip. Just the mere hint of a walk sends the canine into gales of joy, which propels her to toss groceries around their kitchen as if they were "roses, strewn."
In turn, Ackerley regards everything his pooch does with a frankly proud delight, even her feces. Actually, there's a fascination with all sorts of bodily functions here; because the story entails his struggle to breed Tulip, the story inspires a droll meditation revealing the author's own, oddly Freudian (and sometimes Lucian Freudian) fantasies and fears of sexual congress. The accompanying images, entirely hand-drawn and full of lush detail that recalls both Egon Schiele and Maurice Sendak, swell and reduce hypnotically, yielding visual jokes that riff on his artfully understated observations. Never saccharine, My Dog Tulip does justice to the rare experience of heartfelt, mutual love in any form.---Lisa Rosman
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