Review: Wiener-Dog / American Essentials Film Festival / Bill

Wiener-Dog is the polar opposite of what you’d expect from a seemingly harmless movie about an unintelligent, but very cute Dachshund.

Todd Solondz’s film explores the lives of four different people – each with their own mostly-miserable stories – using a medium of an adorable dog.

The dog’s journey from owner to owner includes many ups and downs, though due to Solondz highly pessimistic way of writing there are many, many more downs.

Another thing to note is this film contains a lot of scenes where you may find yourself needing to avert your eyes, including but definitely not limited to, a gratuitous pan across a seemingly never ending stream of the dog’s gastric catastrophe.

The four stories in this film explore disappointment and mortality, just adding to Solondz’s depressing, controversial repertoire of themes. An important thing I should say is that if you are a dog lover, you probably should avoid this movie. During an interview with The Guardian, Solondz said: “If I’m going to use a big truck to crush a tiny little dog, well I’m really going to do it. Because life is crushing.” Pretty brutal.

The film includes great acting from Danny DeVito, playing a failing screenwriting teacher at NYU struggling with his students and his screenplay; Greta Gerwig as an awkward vet-assistant who goes to Ohio with her high school bully and ex-boyfriend (Kieran Culkin) and from Ellen Burstyn as a bitter, dying old woman who when asked her dog’s name she snarls “Cancer. It felt right.” There are great scenes from a rich family who are struggling to cope with other and the dog (Julie Delpy, Tracy Letts and Keaton Nigel Cooke).

 Overall, Wiener-Dog is a funny, harsh commentary on death that isn’t afraid to rub salt in your wounds.

American Essentials Film Festival

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