From the very beginning of humanity’s first quarrels, canine companions have been by our sides through thick and thin. Many have labeled these cuddly creatures as man’s best friend for centuries at this point. There’s a reason why so many humans have their compelling relationships with these animals too. Dogs are essentially a reflection of our actions — innocent animals that are frequently brought into the madness of everyday routine. The way they look at the world is purely through an adolescent and careless lens. They are free from the trappings of capitalism and the paranoia of looming emotional crises. Just like the titular dog in Ana Katz’ The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet, the Argentine director perfectly highlights the carefree perspective of these happy-go-lucky companions.
Rita the dog for example is the upbeat friend of a man named Sebastian. Sebastian is a graphic designer in the film — a working class patron who is confronted by a sudden act of adversity that forces him into a spiralling economic crisis. Part commentary on the working class in present-day Argentina with the occasional dialogue on Union striking and lack of employment opportunities, Katz mixes a mumblecore narrative and the occasional dose of surrealism to create a formidable social commentary. Whenever the film highlights the relationship between Sebastian and Rita, it contains a bubbly energy that radiates throughout the short runtime. Whenever the film specifically detracts from the allegory of canine camaraderie and the economic hierarchies at play, it becomes a distracted and occasionally derivative drag.
The most prominent issue with The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet is within the structure and development of various key plot points throughout the film. While at first challenging with its economic subtext, the film evolves into a scattered saga of random events. For example, the third act changes genres completely, where the film suddenly becomes a pandemic allegory. While the bluntness can be appreciated as a reflection of how sudden COVID-19 dawned society, the manner in which Katz handles this theme feels out of touch with the rest of the pre-developed motives. Even when it’s occasionally humorous with its grounded world building, there’s just not enough depth or clarity going on with the majority of the themes within the film.
One could argue that the entirety of The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet is from the perspective of a carefree canine. However, this incorporation of perspective merely detracts from what Katz wants to evidently state. Playfully messy and rushed in narrative, The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet makes waste of a perfectly adequate concept. Even with the convincing performances and the adorable dogs featured — the film consistently struggles in creating a mesmerising postmodern pandemic-themed apocalypse with its under-cooked social commentary.
Dir: Ana Katz
Scr: Gonzalo Delgado & Ana Katz
Cast: Daniel Katz, Carlos Portaluppi, Facundo Gambandé
DOP: Gustavo Biazzi
Runtime: 73 minutes
The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet premiered at this year’s historic Rotterdam Film Festival edition, as part of the Big Screen Competition program. The film also won the VPRO Big Screen Competition Award at the festival.