A life-changing friend in My Dog Tulip | Film Review | Indy Week
Pin It

A life-changing friend in My Dog Tulip 

Christopher Plummer is the voice of J.R. Ackerley in "My Dog Tulip"

Photo courtesy of New Yorker Films

Christopher Plummer is the voice of J.R. Ackerley in "My Dog Tulip"

J.R. Ackerley was a mid-century English writer whose body of work isn't well known to nonspecialist Americans. A friend and contemporary to many writers who were more successful than he, Ackerley was open about his homosexuality—no mean feat in the 1940s and '50s. Ackerley was apparently something of a loner and a miserablist, too, one who despaired of ever finding a lasting relationship or an "ideal friend."

But a life-changing friend did appear late in this writer's life—in the form of an unruly Alsatian bitch that was left in his care by a lover who was about to be sent to prison. Thus man and dog embarked on a beautiful friendship that would last more than a decade. During this time, Ackerley produced his most enduring contributions to English letters: a novel and a memoir, both inspired by his dog. In an apercu quoted in Paul and Sandra Fierlinger's wonderful animated film, Ackerley wrote, "Unable to love each other, the English turn naturally to dogs."

My Dog Tulip, which features narration by Christopher Plummer and additional voice work from Isabella Rossellini and the late Lynn Redgrave, is based on the memoir of the same title, which Ackerley wrote about his years with the dog (she was actually named Queenie; the name was changed in the book to avoid associations with the author's sexual orientation).

The animation has the texture of watercolors—fresh ink being absorbed by paper, and shaky, wavy lines. The music, too, is period and often cheeky, particularly a number that accompanies a scene of dogs engaging in that most important of social rituals, mutual ass-sniffing: "I'll sniff yours if you sniff mine," goes the choral arrangement. The film, which is unsuitable for young children, also affords an unsentimental glimpse into an older generation's standards of pet ownership, including a horrifying development late in the story.

For any adult who's adopted a dog for the first time (such as me), the film's presentation of the early days of cohabitation will be fondly familiar—learning to take walks in the rain, enduring hours of aimless, obsessive sniffing and scooping lots of poop. But, most profoundly for a loner like Ackerley, having a dog alters his relationships with his eccentric associates. Tulip becomes his most important friend, and by placing himself in the service of his animal, the old man is better able to serve his own needs.

  • By placing himself in the service of his animal, an old man is better able to serve his own needs.

Film Details

My Dog Tulip
Rated NR · 83 min. · 2010
Official Site: www.tulipthedog.com
Director: Paul Fierlinger and Sandra Fierlinger
Writer: J.R. Ackerley and Paul Fierlinger
Cast: Christopher Plummer, Isabella Rossellini, Lynn Redgrave, Peter Gerety, Brian Murray, Paul Hecht and Euan Morton

Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for My Dog Tulip

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Film Review



Twitter Activity

Comments

Just saw Pitch Perfect 3 trailer. Looks like its going to be another year of fun ride. Incredibly excited to …

by Andrew190 on Dueling college a cappella groups in Pitch Perfect (Film Review)

We'd be hard pressed to find a free local weekly with film reviews this poetic. Your writers translate complex ideas …

by Aims Arches on Isabelle Huppert Unforgettably Avenges Herself in Elle (Film Review)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Most Recent Comments

Just saw Pitch Perfect 3 trailer. Looks like its going to be another year of fun ride. Incredibly excited to …

by Andrew190 on Dueling college a cappella groups in Pitch Perfect (Film Review)

We'd be hard pressed to find a free local weekly with film reviews this poetic. Your writers translate complex ideas …

by Aims Arches on Isabelle Huppert Unforgettably Avenges Herself in Elle (Film Review)

Ever since the surprise success of the Fox TV show Glee audiences have been exposed to the world of choirs, …

by philip190 on Dueling college a cappella groups in Pitch Perfect (Film Review)

robertm748: You mean without warning, apart from the very first paragraph of his review???

by Neil Morris on Amy Adams’s Authenticity Elevates Tom Ford’s Glam Pulp Fiction in Nocturnal Animals (Film Review)

Nathan Gelgud is unsure whether the disenfranchised classes in England are whiter than in the US? Really?

Well, …

by Eileen Smyth on Aliens land in an English slum in Attack the Block (Film Review)

© 2017 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation