Heart of a Dog

Movies, Documentary
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Heart of a Dog

Downtown mainstay Laurie Anderson returns with a thoughtful exploration of love and loss—part diary, part memoir and part post-9/11 critique.

Still the essential voice of arty downtown cool, Laurie Anderson returns in customarily thoughtful form for her first feature in nearly three decades. On the surface, she’s made the most uncool thing imaginable: a movie about her dog, an adventurous rat terrier named Lolabelle. But in combining video, surveillance footage and her own 8mm family memories, Heart of a Dog quickly accesses a realm of ideas that vault it far higher than mere sentiment would allow. 

Anderson has always attached a political dimension to her soothing coo, and this Chris Marker–like memoir follows suit. After September 11, 2001, she retreated to the Bay Area for some perspective after noticing NYC’s ever-present cameras, armed soldiers and a wider crackdown on speech. On hikes, the tiny Lolabelle is almost mistaken for a tasty rabbit by a circling hawk, leading Anderson to reflect on new threats from above, never far from mind. The movie isn’t falsely deep or sophomoric, but you do have to roll with some of its more lovably pretentious moments: Anderson is the kind of cosmopolitan artist who thinks nothing of giving her dog piano lessons or concert recitals.

Her deeper subject is death (Anderson’s late partner, Lou Reed, is seen in a flash) but also the phoniness of storytelling and the need to trade love for acceptance. You’ll leave the film more alive, more aware, more able to cope.

Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

By: Joshua Rothkopf

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Release details

Rated: N/R
Release date: Wednesday October 21 2015
Duration: 75 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Laurie Anderson
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