‘Wiener-Dog’: Sundance Review
January 23, 2016 - Picnic Time
Todd Solondz’s latest revolves around a dachshund and her encounters with several dysfunctional suburbanites.
After 6 films in dual decades, it would be a mistake to design anything from Todd Solondz yet a off-center, mordant, passionless misanthropy he has always reliably delivered, and so it is with Wiener-Dog. A film that competence best be described as a suburban American chronicle of Robert Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar on under-prescribed anti-depressants, this morosely comic dog’s odyssey offers a perspective of complicated life little opposite from what a infrequently inspired, reliably impolite writer-director has served adult in a past. Its comical pretension notwithstanding, this modestly scaled work will play to a little niche assembly theatrically.
By embarking on an episodic highway movie, Solondz is means to emanate a little mural of a complicated American landscape, and it isn’t a flattering picture; but, then, it never would be, no matter what area nor what epoch he was traffic with, so erosive is his perspective of tellurian inlet and how people control themselves. The saving beauty with him is that his visions of people stranded in their possess heads are infrequently so bracingly unexpected, disfigured and extraordinary that we can perceptibly assistance yet giggle and admire his originality, only as we can count yourself propitious to live in a area not famous to him.
Wiener-Dog positively has such moments, even if a major clarity of futility and a expectancy of always to design a misfortune from people lift a day. The pretension impression is a brownish-red womanlike dachshund, an acceptable pooch for whom life, as with Bresson’s donkey, is no cruise yet a array of pointless incidents, some good, some not yet mostly indifferent, wholly contingent on whose pet she is during any given moment.
That her infirm duration is spent in an upscale home with a little child who adores her is no pledge of happiness. Wiener-Dog is so named by Remi (Keaton Nigel Cooke), a nine-year-old cancer survivor, who loves a pooch all too good and finds her a companionable choice to his bold father (Tracy Letts) and mom Dina (Julie Delpy), who is rather overly clear in her descriptions of how girls dogs are “raped” by strays and what it means to be “put to sleep.” The learned behaving here sets a apocalyptic tone, and a fact that Wiener-Dog narrowly escapes a predestine laid out by Mom aptly sets adult pretty splendid expectations for what competence be to come.
Unfortunately, many of a pretension character’s successive owners are some-more empty and/or irritating than edifying; if all dogs are doomed to a fitness of a draw, Wiener-Dog pulls a diseased hand. First comes Dawn Wiener, a impression primarily seen—not that it creates any disproportion here—in Solondz’s entrance Welcome to a Dollhouse 21 years ago and now played by Greta Gerwig. Leading an drifting life and versed with an imagination that leads her to name her new pet “Doody,” she sets out on a highway outing with a man from her past who unexpected turns up, Brandon (Kieran Culkin), a dawdling, drifting form with zero engaging to say.
If Dawn had famous where they were headed, she competence have had second thoughts, as they shortly arrive in a tedious city called home by Brandon’s hermit Tommy (Connor Long) and mother Apr (Bridget Brown), a mentally infirm integrate who incite questions from Dawn about their reproductive capabilities. Mixed in here are 3 hitchhiking Mariachi singers, entirely embellished out in Mexican habit in deepest Middle America, who recite a litany of censure about how stifling, tedious and joyless life north of a limit is and how they can’t wait to lapse to their homeland. Donald Trump would pointer these guys adult during once as debate entertainers.
Along with a viewer, Wiener-Dog is spared any serve time in a Heartland once she’s taken in by a terminally vexed Dave Schmerz (Danny DeVito), a one-time successful screenwriter now singular to training a theme in New York City and spending many of his waking hours obsessing over removing his representative on a phone and fantasizing about scoring a outrageous pound with his latest script.
DeVito delivers a characterization of frightful self-absorption and perceptibly surpressed anger; vital in a little unit and with a fast unraveling tie to a genuine world, Schmerz comes off as something like an aged uncle to Travis Bickle, an indeterminate loner who could cocktail during any time.
Schmerz takes Wiener-Dog around city with him yet one of a script’s genuine shortcomings lies in how a pretension impression becomes increasingly marginalized as a story lurches along, to a indicate where she’s some-more of an attire than a figure of any executive significance possibly dramatically or to her master of a moment.
Her subsequent and final owners is even older, a churlish Nana (Ellen Burstyn), a suburban shut-in whose flaky granddaughter Zoe (Zosia Mamet) turns adult with a flamboyantly plain-spoken and egotistical black artist beloved named Fantasy (Michael Shaw) to ask some money.
The perfect obliviousness to anything over themselves projected by both Nana and Fantasy are grimly funny, yet Solondz saves his many desirous cadence for last, a distinguished cognisance of Nana’s too-late notice of how things could have been different, and better, in her life. These final mins are a best in a film and by distant a many visually dazzling, even yet Ed Lachman’s cinematography via stands as a indication of pointed and superb compositional ability tested by what are, for a many part, deliberately prosaic settings.
Life might be as astray and capricious as Solondz portrays it, yet it is arguably some-more different in the moods and the ups and downs. The film might not be a dog, yet nor is it expected to turn anyone’s best friend.
Production: Annapurna Pictures, Killer Films
Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Keaton Nigel Cooke, Kieran Culkin, Julie Delpy, Danny DeVito, Greta Gerwig, Tracy Letts, Zosia Mamet, Connor Long, Bridget Brown, Michael Shaw
Director: Todd Solondz
Screenwriter: Todd Solondz
Producers: Megan Ellison, Christine Vachon
Executive producer: David Hinojosa
Director of photography: Ed Lachman
Production designer: Akin McKenzie
Costume designer: Amela Baksic
Editor: Kevin Messman
Music: Nathan Larson, James Lavino
Casting: Jessica Daniels