Musician, experimental artist and composer Laurie Anderson can now add filmmaker to her resume as well. Her debut, Heart of a Dog is a semi-autobiographical mixed formatted documentary that subtly, yet uniquely tells us some of the innermost details of Anderson’s life in the psychedelic way that only Anderson can.
On the surface, Heart of a Dog seems to be just about Anderson’s beloved, late pet dog, Lolabelle, who was Anderson’s companion and a source of entertainment for her (Lolabelle played the piano and painted as well). The dog was as creative and unconventional as Anderson herself and the movie tells of the intimate relationship these two had.
But while Lolabella’s story may be at the forefront of the film, it is just as much about Anderson’s own life as well, with anecdotes from her childhood and stories from her mother animated and illustrated on screen with a mix of old home videos, original animation and stock footage. Craftily strung together with a creative mix of real life and fantasy, the only time Anderson comes on screen is in animated form and it’s very briefly.
Heart of a Dog seems messy and will definitely not appeal to everyone, but those familiar with Anderson’s work and her impressive personality will appreciate her attempt at filmmaking, which just goes on to prove that this woman can do whatever she puts her mind to. Walk into this one with no expectations and be pleasantly surprised at being invited into the tender relationship between a woman and her pet dog and how it affected everything in Anderson’s life.
Heart of a Dog opens today at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.