Heart of a Dog

 

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The multi-media artist Laurie Anderson ruminates on the life of her dog, among other 

things.


Heart of a Dog

Lolabelle the pianist, among other things

 

To this day Laurie Anderson is probably best remembered for her ground-breaking single ‘O Superman’ – and as the widow of Lou Reed. Since her breakthrough in the charts in 1981, Anderson has experimented in all kinds of media, from audio-visual installations to multi-media stage performances. She has her fans. Here, with Heart of a Dog, she flexes her credentials as writer, director, producer, ‘cinematographer’, animator, composer and narrator. These are big titles for what is essentially a home movie, a mixed media mash-up of superimposed images, of shots of blue skies, clouds, raindrops, CCTV footage and video-diary peregrinations. Over all this, Laurie Anderson’s perfectly executed syllables dance with the soporific drone of a condescending therapist, our guide through the odd thought patterns of her world. “What are days for?” she asks. “To wake us up. What are nights for? To fall through time [beat] …to another world.”

 

Primarily, Heart of a Dog is about Lolabelle, an abstract painter, sculptor, pianist and, more prosaically, a rat terrier. Guided by the spirit of the writer David Foster Wallace, Anderson plucks at thoughts and notable quotations to inform the life – and death – of her beloved terrier. It obviously all means an awful lot to her, who adored and ruthlessly spoiled little Lolabelle, and who allows her mind and talent to meander across the screen.

 

Most people will find the film undisciplined, inconsequential and staggeringly self-indulgent. Only Laurie Anderson’s own life-serving devotees are likely to come away feeling that they have witnessed something transformative and profound. “Not I,” said the little red hen.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Featuring Laurie Anderson, Lolabelle, Julian Schnabel, Lou Reed.

 

Dir Laurie Anderson, Pro Laurie Anderson and Dan Janvey, Screenplay Laurie Anderson, Ph Laurie Anderson, Toshiaki Ozawa and Joshua Zucker-Pluda, Ed Melody London and Katherine Nolfi, Music Laurie Anderson, Animation Laurie Anderson.

 

Canal Street Communications-Dogwoof Pictures. 

76 mins. USA/France. 2015. Rel: 20 May 2016. Cert. PG.