REVIEW: Heart of a Dog

9 05 2016

Heart of a DogA mourning of a lost husband and pet. A celebration of their lives.

An elegy for the innocence and purity of pre-9/11 New York City. A lamentation for the rise of the surveillance state.

A visually eclectic documentary. A simply told personal tale.

These are some of the many contradictions that make up Laurie Anderson’s film “Heart of a Dog,” a film chock full of ideas in its 75 minute runtime yet somehow manages to never feel dense. The whole experience is rather ethereal, guided perhaps by Anderson’s deep conviction in Buddhist teachings. It’s hard to fault her logic when she seems so sure of the deeper psychic connections motivating each decision.

Occasionally, Anderson does seem to bite off more than she can chew in the film. She runs in circles around recurring themes while rarely exploring them deeply, though perhaps that is her point – sensation over intellect, natural consciousness over synthetic thought. “Heart of a Dog” is at its best when immensely personal, particularly when recounting the extraordinary life of her dog, Lolabelle. Anderson is no ordinary artist, so of course, she had no ordinary dog; her rat terrier went blind but picked up playing the piano in her final two years on earth.

Some of the extrapolations Anderson makes from Lolabelle get a little dicier, and the internal resolution of the conflicts by asserting the superiority of her beliefs leaves a bit of a sour taste. But in spite of its flaws and roughness, “Heart of a Dog” remains quite intriguing. At the very least, watching an artist so willing to throw out the rulebook with picture, sound, content and tone is always worthwhile. B2halfstars

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