Wednesday 26 May 2021

The Dog That Wouldn't Be Quiet aka El perro que no calla (Argentina 2021: Dir Ana Katz)

Lonely illustrator/graphic designer Sebastian (Daniel Katz, director Ana's brother) is having trouble with his dog; its constant howling annoys the neighbours who fear that the noise stems from its isolation when he goes to work. Sebastian's solution, to take the dog into the office with him, backfires when he's sacked (although bizarrely he's actually forced to resign as there would be no probable cause for employment termination).

Sebastian finds work in the country, but after a tragedy involving his four legged friend he's forced to forge ahead alone, drifting from job to job until, shortly after settling down, a major extra-terrestrial incident places his new family in jeapordy. 

Told in a series of sharp vignettes filmed in sumptuous black and white (with some of the scenes rendered in crude animation; by Sebastian's own hand it's assumed) Katz provides thumbnail sketches of a life less lived than strolled through, which becomes emblematic of people's interrelationships with each other. 

There's a droll humour at work watching Sebastian adjust to new surroundings and, importantly, seeking to find happiness and fit in. He learns that his skillset doesn't count for much in the new world; these days, he's told by a friend from whom he seeks work, bosses are happy for anyone to have a go at graphic design. And in one of his many jobs - which also include hanging out with a left wing fruit and veg collective - he looks after a disabled man as a favour to a friend of his mother, scooting the guy round the apartment on a caster chair like a crazy fairground ride, much to the delight of the seat's occupant.

The final section of the film shifts gear considerably and (I would have written were it not for the events of the last fifteen months or so) into the realms of science fiction, with an (other worldly) virus resulting in a sleeping vapour hovering four feet off the ground around the world (people's coping mechanisms in response to this are some of the oddest scenes in the movie). 

You've probably gathered from the above that The Dog That Wouldn't Be Quiet is both narratively and tonally unusual. It has some things to say about Argentinian society and party politics as it impacts on one man. It's a difficult film to love because of its awkwardness, but its style and photography offer beauty that rises above the oddness of the piece and, at less than 75 minutes, in a compact way.

The Dog That Wouldn't Be Quiet is available on Curzon Home Cinema now.

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