Adapted from a novel by J.R. Ackerley, My Dog Tulip is an eloquently told woofs and all portrait of Ackerley’s intimate relationship with his best friend, a cheeky Alsation.
Animated with beautiful minimalistic drawings and swirling pastel colours, the film’s quaint and unassuming look both perfectly suits the story and narration and belies its more risqué elements.
With next to no dialogue, directors Paul Fierlinger and Sandra Fierlinger rely on an extensive voice over (read by Christopher Plummer) lifted from Ackerley’s writing. With wry, acerbic flair Acklerley discusses all aspects of dog life – spiritedly embracing the less than sophisticated subjects of poop, fornication, ass whiffing and other doggie matters.
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It is through Acklerley’s observations about Tulip that the narrator emerges as a strong character. Not unlike the protagonist of Notes on a Scandal, Acklerley’s perspective is both high-minded and scandalous, painting a picture of a loner and borderline misanthrope who observes human behaviour from a distance – and, in this instance, canine behaviour from close-up.
With it’s mixture of brevity and profundity, lofty ideas, low brow humour and a lovely visual style, My Dog Tulip plays like an adult picture book littered with candid and concise illuminations on the dynamic between pooches and people.
The film works both as a deep and affecting personal ode to the bond between man and dog and as a piece of frivolous entertainment. Like Adam Elliott’s sublime claymation Mary and Max, My Dog Tulip can crack poo jokes one moment and make poignant soul-tingling observations the next, while never jeopardising the sense that this is real art. And very good art, too.