Wiener Dog by Todd Solondz

In late spring/early summer, I saw the preview for Wiener Dog and wanted to see it. (The trailer’s great.) I didn’t imagine I would be anywhere near an independent theater during the release date, but as luck would have it, I did happen to be at the right place at the right time and got to see the film last weekend.

image from ca.picclick.com

An woman, possibly a volunteer, taking movie tickets warned us that it was a weird movie, not for everyone, she didn’t really like it, and on and on. She also started explaining the plot—but nothing that wasn’t already implied in the movie trailer.

Then, before the movie began, I watched as she deterred several other movie-goers from seeing the film. In doing so, she also explained the plot of the film and this time she definitely gave away major spoilers! Fortunately, since plot doesn’t usually engage me all that much, spoilers don’t necessarily ruin a film for me.

Shock over a theater working handing out spoilers aside, the film was actually pretty great. My favorite scenes were with Greta Gerwig and Ellen Burstyn (not shown together), but the other sections are worth keeping as well. The film follows the wiener dog’s impact on various lives as it gets adopted, handed off, and so forth. Each section offers some unique, horrifying, and beautiful glimpse at human nature—not an easy task, but achieved here.

In terms of depth and complexity, the movie delivers. However, I did have some trouble with continuity. I don’t think I give away too much when I say that the movie starts off showing how the dog is transferred from one scenario to the next, but mid-way, that transfer is no longer documented. By the end, the viewer can’t tell if it’s supposed to be the same wiener dog. And I think it matters because my interpretation of some of the meaning in the film would have been altered by knowing if it was supposed to be the same dog throughout.

Next, one could argue that the final scenario moves outside of realism. Since the film seems solidly based in realism up to that point, the shift seemed more distracting and accidental, like the film was breaking its own rules. Sure, the filmmaker broke the rule for a purpose, which was effective, but I think the film would have been more consistent throughout if it could have found a way to make the same points without delving outside of the rules of our realm.

So yeah, it’s a good movie. Normally, I would probably call this dog a dachshund, but the movie will have you saying (and singing) “wiener dog.” Wiener dog.

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