Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5
Original Title: El perro que no calla
Argentina, 2021. Laura Cine, Oh My Gomez! Films. Screenplay by Gonzalo Delgado, Ana Katz. Cinematography by Gustavo Biazzi, Fernando Blanc, Marcelo Lavintman, Joaquín Neira, Guillermo Nieto. Produced by Laura Huberman, Pablo Ingercher, Ana Katz, Ramiro Pavon. Costume Design by Pilar Gonzalez.
The simple pleasure of a man’s love for his pet dog spirals his life out of control from the start of this precisely performed and directed featurette, rendered in crisply beautiful black and white images.
Sebastian lives in the city with his sweet canine friend who is the bane of the neighbourhood, and everyone who lives near him begs him to do something about the dog’s whining all day when Sebastian is at work. His solution, to bring the dog to the office, doesn’t work out well with his employers, after which we catch him suddenly living an idyllic life in the country where his four-legged friend can stretch out to its heart’s content on the open terrain.
Key moments that represent reversals of fortune are presented via crudely animated but charming drawings between live-action scenes, and the first comes with the end of this loving relationship between man and dog, after which Sebastian bounces from one experience to the next, finding work as a caregiver to a terminally ill man, temporarily moving back in with his mother to gather his bearings, joining an agricultural collective in the city and them moving out to the countryside with a new wife and a baby on the way.
Director Ana Katz then daringly moves into Yorgos Lanthimos territory by introducing a cosmic disaster that places the world into crisis for a lengthy period of time, the real-life Covid pandemic transformed on film into the effect of a meteorite which poisons the air four feet above ground level and requires humans to either crouch around on their haunches or wear impossibly expensive bubble helmets. The effect of this worldwide cataclysm, however, is to help people like Sebastian put things in perspective and find their grounding, which Katz suggests is possible for those of us lucky enough to survive the disaster that inspired aspects of this charmer. If not, we could least accept the fact that a neighbour’s noisy dog isn’t the worst thing a person could have to deal with.
Told with the quiet and unassuming rhythms of Argentina’s school of social realism, but with touches of absurdism and science-fiction added, this film’s brief running time covers expansive themes and the delicate performances make sure they never overwhelm you.