Quirky and bittersweet, this is a treat for dog lovers and the dogless alike.
Man’s ongoing love affair with the hound has probably provided more in the way of cinematic clichés than man’s love affair with his own species. Quizzical head-cocked look? Rueful bow? Loveable rascal attitude? What’s that, you say, danger? Aww, go on then.
And then there was My Dog Tulip. Playing very much for the realist team, Paul and Sandra Fierlinger have brought JR Ackerly’s memoir of his time spent sharing life with his rescued German Shepherd with all the cuteness of a hot dog turd planted firmly on the middle of you living room carpet.
The result is a disarmingly honest yet beautifully rendered animation narrated by Christopher Plummer as the 60-something single man Ackerly who takes on a dog for companionship and develops a deep respect and compassion for the beast.
For whatever reason (though you suspect misanthropy) Ackerly has a gap in his life where companionship should be, and Tulip fills this amply, since both man and beast are wary and anxious about the world, but filled with delight at each other’s company.
This results in scenes where Plummer narrates Ackerly’s almost rhapsodic ruminations on Tulip defecating as well as a thought-provoking narrative strand about his wish to have Tulip experience a full life, and that includes getting laid – he wants her to exist on her own terms. Sure, it’s themes are earthy at times but there’s genuine affection and humanity in this story.
The animation itself is hand-rendered yet paperless, made by hand on a computer with thousands of individual drawings. This results in a kind of fluid, painterly aesthetic that defies the slickness of most computer generated animated films, instead opting to resemble wobbly watercolour sketches that have come to life. It suits down to the ground the unconformity of the odd couple it depicts.
If the press release is anything to go by, this isn’t going to be Marley & Me.
Very idiosyncratic, very amusing and beautifully drawn.
Quirky and bittersweet, a treat for dog lovers and the dogless alike.