My Life As a Dog Blu-ray review

            Swedish filmmaker Lasse Hallström may now be best known for his critically praised and Award-friendly Hollywood films, such as Chocolat and The Cider House Rules, but these films would not have been possible without My Life as a Dog. This untraditional Swedish coming-of-age tale is a milestone in cinema, and one of the most honest portrayals of children ever to appear onscreen.

This is not a typical heartwarming film about children where a happy ending manifests itself perfectly just in time for the final act. Instead, My Life as a Dog takes us on a journey of discovery into both the wonders of the sexual side of life as well as the pain of loss. Young elementary school child Ingemar Johansson (Anton Glanzelius) is taken care of by his mother, a father out of the picture. Ingemar is forced to face some harsh realities when a series of misfortunes befall him, from the loss of his beloved pet dog to the death of his mother.

Forced to live in his uncle’s factory town as his mother grows increasingly worse, Ingemar explores his new world with optimism. Despite being treated as a dog, complete with tics and a troublesome curiosity, Ingemar imagines a fate which is worse. He sees the fate of the Russian dog sent up into orbit as a reminder that things could be worse, and soon he is welcomed into the village full of colorful characters. He may not have much of a blood family in his life, but there is hope in Ingemar’s future because of the people he meets in his new home.

The curious behavior of the child as well as his ability to often go unnoticed allow him to be exposed the quirky behavior of the local townspeople. From ice swimmers to artists, acrobats to factory workers, Ingemar has plenty to learn from these unique characters. Falling through straight into a sculpting session with a nude model, Ingemar is also given a lesson in sexuality.

The Blu-ray release includes a spectacular high definition digital transfer which was approved by Hallström himself. The special features include Shall We Go to My or Your Place or Each Go Home Alone?, a wonderful 57-minute film by Hallström from the early 70s. There is also a video interview with the director and a booklet insert with essays by critic Michael Atkinson and author Kurt Vonnegut.

No comments: