FILM REVIEW: A Dog’s Life2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
This film consists of four stories about four different dogs and their owners’ lives, reflecting love, life and departure. Who will these four dogs meet? What kind of situation are they in? This film was produced, directed and written by the legendary director of the New Taiwan Cinema Chang Yi, celebrating his return to cinema as a result of his commitment to the late Edward Yang, who dreamt of creating animation films.
Director: Chang Yi
Review by Jean Wong
A Dog’s Life is an anthology detailing the unflinchingly honest relationships between humans and dogs.
Though animated, the anthology feels as realistic as possible as each minute detail from sound to lighting to the dogs’ mannerisms are meticulously portrayed.
Each short holds its own in capturing the essence of life, no matter the story or the location. Lost in the Rain follows a stray as it trudges through the rain on a crowded city street, ignored by the rest of the world until a little boy stops to play with it. One-eyed Tiger also depicts a stray, though a much more hostile one, heavily injured as it limps along a highway. The protagonist in Old Lady deals with growing old, as both he and his dog are plagued with old age. In Revenge, an owner takes on more than she can handle as she takes an abandoned stray under her wing.
The ways in which the anthology subtly focuses on the subject of every shot is done interestingly. Starting from Lost in the Rain but not limited to it, the faces of passersby are often kept out of frame or only given a brief glimpse. With such a heavy focus on the dogs as well as the humans that they interact with, the sense that the shorts completely revolves around the dogs comes through strongly. The relationship between each dog and human is also all the more pronounced, drawing parallels to real life.
Fascinatingly but understandably, each short does not necessarily come with a happy ending. Instead, A Dog’s Life seems to aim towards showing the candid nature of the relationship between humans and dogs, which are not always heartwarming as most of us would love to believe. Perhaps this is why A Dog’s Life works well in its unglorified yet sublime representation of episodes that dogs go through daily.
About Singapore Chinese Film Festival
Co-organised by the Singapore Film Society and Singapore University of Social Sciences, the Singapore Chinese Film Festival (SCFF) seeks to cultivate an appreciation of independent Chinese cinema. With works from documentaries to shorts to full-length feature films, SCFF showcases the diversity of cultures and languages explored by Chinese filmmakers.