Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dog's Life

My Dog Tulip (2009) is a bit out of our comfort zone (which I consider to be recent action or action/comedy and B&W comedy or mystery). It's an animated love story of an old man for a poorly behaved dog.

The story is based on an autobiographical novel by J.R. Ackerly, about his dog Tulip. He rescued the dog from a family who didn't do much to care for her. He takes her for walks, but doesn't do much in the way of training her. There is a lot about her bodily functions, her barking, her mating, and so forth, as well as the author's grumpy life and the people who he doesn't get along with, and so forth.

All this is of moderate interest - it is helped by the quotes from Ackerly's apparently beautifully written book, and undermined by how obnoxious Ackerly seems and how clueless he seems about training and cleaning up after his dog. The animation, in a simple/sophisticated style out of the New Yorker, is what made the movie worthwhile for us. It nicely mirrors the direct, casual and seemingly straightforward narrative.

Although I didn't realize it, we had already seen parts of this story - the movie We Think the World of You is based on another Ackerly novel about how he got the dog - from his working class rough-trade ex-lover. That Tulip's owner is gay (in England between the Wars) is gay is never mentioned, but seems to me to be conveyed quite clearly. It's an interesting subtext.

But it is just a subtext. This really is a story about a particular man and his particular dog, and the non-particular, universal love that they shared.

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