The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet
Argentinian director and recipient of the 2016 Special Jury Award for Screenwriting for her film My Friend from the Park Ana Katz returns to Sundance with The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet. The film chronicles the life of ordinary man Sebastian, an animator in his 30s. He is first encountered as he is bombarded by various neighbours pleading for his cooperation. They are visibly distressed as they ask him to rectify a situation, his burly, six-foot neighbour brought to tears; his dog Rita will not stop barking. This sets in motion the increments of the man’s life, with substantial jumps in time between, as he experiences loneliness, unemployment, fatherhood, a pandemic much more unusual than COVID-19, and, finally, contentment.
The action follows Sebastian (“Sebas” to his friends and family), in his everyday domestic existence and at work; he is mistreated, misunderstood and ignored. From being fired for having to take his dog to work to eating a sandwich left on a train by a distracted child, he endures moments of total vulnerability, nodding politely as a character talks incessantly at him.
However, just when the story reaches its capacity for engagement and Sebastian for the first time finds happiness, a bizarre pandemic plot element is squashed in, where humans cannot stand above four feet off the ground, inviting an incredulous guffaw from the audience. The cartoonish imagery of doctors disrupts the film’s flow and destroys any emotional connection that was previously established, begging the question: is the director is taking the narrative seriously, or are the audience being tricked and subsequently ridiculed?
Katz’s intention seems clear – there are parallels with the powerful depictions of ordinary life in Lenny Abrahamson’s Garage, combined with borrowed elements of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – but somewhere she loses her way. The production does not build a balanced rhythm of movement; it does not flow. In addition, the audience is not permitted enough time to identify with any of the characters besides Sebastian, as by the time one learns a name, the scene skips forward a few years. Although he is a sweet protagonist, his characterisation is too weak to command and carry a narrative on its own.
The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet is an impressive attempt to weave elements of just about every cinema genre there is, but it gets irrevocably lost in this entanglement.
The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet does not have a UK release date yet.
For further information about Sundance Film Festival 2021 visit here.
Read more reviews from the festival here.
Watch the trailer for The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet here: