Review: My Life As A Dog
Blu-ray & DVD: My Life As A Dog (1985)
Ingemar lives with his mother and brother, and in many ways he is a typical eleven year old boy. Although Ingemar isn’t a naughty child, trouble is never far away, and this becomes too much for his sick mother. They decide to take the difficult decision to send the children away to stay with other family members, giving their mother some respite and a chance to recuperate. Ingemar goes to stay with his uncle, and although he isn’t happy to leave his home, he encounters new and often strange characters as he discovers new adventures along the way.
Despite its Oscar nominations and various other awards, I admit that I hadn’t heard of My Life As A Dog before I sat down to watch it for review. I have to further confess that when I read the blurb that accompanied the movie, which described it as a Swedish arthouse favourite; I was filled with a sense of dread. Despite my fears, I really enjoyed My Life As A Dog, which goes to show that the saying is true, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, or a film by its blurb!
There are many things I loved about the movie but, I think the thing that stuck with me the most was the depiction of the children and their environment. Set in the 1950’s, the film shows children actually being children, playing together, and making things as they use their imagination. I smiled when they were using two cans tied together with a piece of string to communicate, as they built a rocket to take them to the moon. It made me pine for a simpler time where the family would sit together listening to the radio, rather than nowadays, where people don’t talk to each other and are content with staring at the light of a mobile phone.
Lasse Hallström beautifully directs the movie, bringing the small village to life with quirky characters and gorgeous scenery. In fact it evoked such a strong reaction from me that I found myself getting lost in the film, wanting to be part of Ingemars gang. There is a sense of joyous confusion as he discovers new things about himself, and others, whilst dealing with physical and mental changes to his body.
Although I smiled through most of film it is often bittersweet, as Ingemar often recalls a calmer time in his life when he used to make his mother laugh before she became sick. As her health deteriorates, the things that used to make her laugh now tire her out, as if the life is slowly draining from her frail body. Imagine dealing with something like this when you are eleven years old? Imagine feeling like Ingemar, and despite his best efforts to make his mother better, he feels like he is actually making her worse. That’s what I loved about My Life as a Dog. It has beauty and innocence but, also deals with the harsh reality of life that someday our time here is going to end, and we must make the most of our lives whilst we can.
The performances throughout are excellent but, special mention has to go to Anton Glanzelius who did an incredible job playing Ingemar. He brings Ingemar to life filling him with innocence but, also making him feel wise beyond his years which gives him an incredible degree of empathy.
My Life as a Dog is a beautiful film with which I absolutely fell in love. It will make you smile and probably cry a little bit, and I would absolutely recommend that you check it out.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations, transferred from original film materials and approved by director Lasse Hallström
- Original 1.0 mono audio
- Optional English subtitles
- Come On Then! (Kom igen, nu’rå!), a 1981 TV film by Hallström about a 35-year-old footballer (played by Swedish pop star Robert Broberg) looking back over his life
- Original theatrical trailer
- Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Peter Walsh.
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