You Tibetan-Buddhist-leaning, dog-loving, post-Velvet-Underground types know who you are. You’ll want to go see “Heart of a Dog.” Maybe you don’t declare yourself as any particular type and just want a trip to the movies that is unlike all the other movies you see. (Yes, it will be a trip.)
This experiment runs a sensibly dreamy stream of consciousness through its paces. Writer and director Laurie Anderson delivers the voiceover narration that spans the film. Her verbal tone hypnotizes you with your own need to connect with your beloved dog, whether or not you ever had one. It calls you to recall unconditional love, whether or not you’ve ever felt it. It bids you to allow life and death, each in its time.
This humbly bold film anchors you in a post-9/11, mega-data-collection reality that’s held up by air currents of consciousness, up-drafted by the gap between now and the next now after that. It doesn’t hurt that there’s a dog in the film that paints, sculpts, and plays the piano without it feeling like an audition for YouTube. It is a serious meditation that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Laurie Anderson also wrote the music that melds with her voice and her visuals. As well, she wrote a quiet moment with a gentle snowfall in the woods. From the opening animation – also done by Anderson – to the ending with Lou Reed singing his “Turning time around,” there’s a haunted feeling throughout. (Anderson collaborated with Reed for more than 20 years and was married to him the last five years of his life.)
Will you learn something about feeling sad without being sad? Will you learn something about the direction of time? Will you learn to harness the potential of a kind and giving heart? Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. The artistic parade of “Heart of a Dog” will flow well for almost everybody disposed to let it.