Year of the Dog
Time Out says
Peggy (Molly Shannon) is in love with her dog Pencil. They eat together, watch TV together, even snuggle up in bed together. Then Pencil dies and Peggy is distraught. A rebound date with her knife and gun-loving neighbour (John C Reilly) proves futile. Then she meets Newt (Peter Sarsgaard), an employee of the veterinary practice in which Pencil woofed his last who converts her to his starry-eyed worldview where animals ‘live for love’.
‘Saturday Night Live’ ex-pat Shannon is excellent in the central role, brandishing a sweet, toothy grin and colossal range of customised cardigans to make us really feel for Molly’s human estrangement. Though the film falters in terms of its lack of a streamlined narrative, there is no denying that it is packed to the rafters with meaty ideas and characters who are charged with a satisfying moral ambivalence. Sarsgaard’s bumbag-sporting Newt is a case in point, first appearing as a fey Godhead for asexual vegan activists, with scenes of his gooey dog trainer vernacular later offset with a snooty grimace of emotional blackmail when Peggy starts to nibble on a chicken sandwich. Concealing a bloodied dagger behind its twee, sky-blue mise en scene and affected, Sundancey framing, the film uses Peggy’s unhealthy fondness for animal companionship to present ideas that – like Todd Solondz did with the abortion debate in ‘Pallindromes’ -– argue both for and against the ownership of animals and animal products. Still, a somewhat meandering final third makes ‘Year of the Dog’ end up feeling a bit like a closed kennel with a healthy purebred mewing inside and just waiting for the right owner
Cast and crew
John C. Reilly