Thursday, October 8, 2015

@NYFF53 Day 14: Sublime Expressions of Love, Laughter and Loss in 'Heart of a Dog'

Lolabelle is the star of "Heart of a Dog." Photo from "Heart of a Dog" Facebook page.

IT is difficult to watch “Heart of a Dog” and not leave with a smile on your face and a smirk on your heart.

Visual artist, musician, director Laurie Anderson weaves anecdotes about her beloved, rat terrier, Lolabelle,” into observations and reflections on post-911 New York City, growing up as well as sundry other matters.

The film debuts this evening at the 53rd New York Film Festival.

“Heart of a Dog” is at once a visual essay and an epic poem on the level of the Iliad. Indeed, it relies heavily on figures of speech associated with poetry – metaphors, similes, anaologies – to tell a story about love and loss via myriad avenues.

Often in “Heart of a Dog,” LA spends considerable time discussing a seemingly unrelated topic until perhaps midway she connects the dots. It's akin to freefalling on a roller coaster, then at the last minute being swept upward. It is an exhilarating thrill ride.

A major character in “Heart of a Dog,” a commissioned by Arte, is LA’s narration. Hers is the voice of a raconteur. A light night deejay. Her vocals, backed by a dreamy soundtrack, hypnotize the listener, lulling and pulling her/him in to this wonderland.

Elsewhere, the visual aides and animation – veterinary hospital scenes, New York neighborhoods, ice skaters, hawks flying overhead, document storage facilities – are quite potent, highlighting LA’s skill as a visual artist. Two mediums are at work simultaneously – one a film, the other a shifting/ever-changing painting.

Though a times this mosaic is amorphous, it is never not wonderful. Even as it veers toward the incomprehensible, "Heart of a Dog" gently wills the viewer to tag alone, promising a fascinating discovery.

The most powerful and wonderful imagery of all, however, is of the lovely, loyal, talented Lolabelle.

Visit to learn more about the 53rd New York Film Festival, including showtimes and venues.

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