July 1st, 2022
MOVIE: THE DOG WHO WOULDN’T BE QUIET
STARRING: DANIEL KATZ, RAQUEL BANK, JULIETA ZYLBERBERG
DIRECTED BY: ANA KATZ
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
Summer is a great time to seek out films that have flown under the radar in the last year. Some, such as Argentinian Ana Katz’s The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet, played festivals throughout 2021 before making its debut on MUBI’s streaming platform earlier this year. MUBI acquires some of the least commercial but often most daring films that play at these festivals. This one is no different but I can’t say it completely works as a whole of a film or narrative.
Daniel Katz plays Sebas (short for Sebastian), a lonely guy trying to find his way in the world through a series of seemingly unrelated jobs, from graphic design to writing, caretaking, and teaching. When we first meet him, he is in the midst of gardening while his dog Rita looks on. Soon we learn that Rita has been keeping neighbors awake with her cries whenever Sebas is gone. Without much choice, he attempts to bring the dog to work but then must suffer the consequences when confronted by his superiors.
What follows couldn’t be further from what the title implies. The passage of time jumps rather quickly to seemingly random episodes before Sebas reaches any sense of stability. Perhaps that’s the point: we feel a bit like Sebas does, lost and struggling. However, this approach makes for a narrative that doesn’t hold onto any one thread. By the end, we see Sebas watering plants at home, as his life has settled down, suggesting growth takes feeding, attention, and perseverance. In a sense, he is the dog that won’t be quiet. He doesn’t give in but continues to plant the necessary seeds to keep growing as an individual. This is fine as an idea, but it feels a bit heavy handed and metaphorical, rather than narratively satisfying.
There are a few elements that are interesting here though. The entire film is shot in black and white featuring stark images and long takes which focus primarily on Sebas. The lack of color provides a drab backdrop to his quiet and lonely existence. Eventually he finds connections through work, the subway, and a party. The color doesn’t change but there is a livelier visual sense to Sebas’s life. Throughout, Katz’s performance is never anything more than subtle which feels very appropriate for who this character is and how he treats these shifts in his life. He’s not a character that typically explodes, rather he moves through life accepting his various travails.
The film also takes a few surprising turns. First, there is the introduction of hand drawn images which illustrate some of the more dramatic events taking place on Sebas’s journey. The inclusion of these images appears a bit suddenly without any previous foreshadowing of their significance. Later, the narrative moves toward science fiction with a bizarre shift in focus for not only the main character but for the planet as a whole. Is this an apocalypse or a blip in one character’s timeline? I thought it might be an allusion to the pandemic but the film was shot prior to COVID’s early stages. It’s another seemingly random event that Sebastian must face head on.
The world and tone of this film is not that far off from the bizarre worlds created by directors such as Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, The Lobster) or David Lynch (Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive) yet I couldn’t help but long for something more here. Perhaps he should have gone further with his surrealistic scenarios or even pursued more of the science fiction genre that is tapped into late in the film.
In essence, there is not a lot to recommend about The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet, suffice to say the film is only 73 minutes and does offer some unusual twists. It is a daring narrative that writer/director Ana Katz has created which might prove intriguing for some. I, for one, tend to like such cinematic adventures. This one was a bit of a head scratcher though. Perhaps I just wanted to see more of the dog…
THE DOG WHO WOULDN’T BE QUIET IS CURRENTLY STREAMING ON MUBI.COM.
2 ½ STARS
Written by: Dan Pal