Sunday, September 02, 2007

YEAR OF THE DOG - neither romantic nor funny

Peggy (Molly Shannon) is a lonely middle-aged woman. Her sister-in-law (Laura Dern) is smug and self-centred; her boss is materialistic and selfish; her best-friend (Regina King) is callous and deluded. So Peggy finds solace in her relationship with her dog, Pencil. When he dies she transfers her attention to a similarly psychologically stunted dog-trainer called Newt (Peter Sarsgaard). Rejected once again, Peggy has what can only be described as a nervous breakdown.

This is not the stuff of romance nor comedy, and I was astounded at just what a relentlessly depressing film this was. From the trailer, one might have thought this would be another indie rom-com about quirky characters finding love, EAGLE VERSUS SHARK stylee. Instead, this is simply a long-drawn out tragedy in which a potentially normal woman throws away her life. To that extent, it reminded me of Mike White's previous script, THE GOOD GIRL, which left me similarly ambivalent about the central character and similarly depressed, despite the odd witty one-liner. Definitely one to avoid.

YEAR OF THE DOG played Sundance 2007 and was released in the US in April. It is currently on release in the UK.

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