Paws and effect: Isle of Dogs is political commentary and visual treat

It’s been almost a decade since Wes Anderson last used stop-motion animation, and this movie has his singular aesthetic stamp all over it.

Updated: Jul 05, 2018 17:37:22

By Rashid Irani

In a futuristic Japanese city, all the dogs are banished to an offshore garbage dump. As they struggle to survive, a 12-year-old boy turns up determined to rescue his pet.
Direction: Wes AndersonVoices: Bryan Cranston, Koyu RankinRating: 4.5 / 5

Isle of Dogs transports the viewer to a fictional Japanese city 20 years in the future. An outbreak of ‘snout fever’ has prompted the cat-loving mayor to banish the entire canine population to an offshore garbage dump.

In a sudden reversal of fortune, the mangy pack stumbles upon an unlikely ally in an orphaned 12-year-old boy (Koyu Rankin) who is determined to rescue his exiled pet.

It’s been nine years since Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Grand Budapest Hotel) made his foray into stop-motion animation, with Fantastic Mr Fox. He returns to the technique — frame-by-frame manipulation of handcrafted models or puppets — in his ninth feature. Broken up into four chapters, the plot is predictable, but the stamp of Anderson’s singular artistic vision is all over it.

The painstaking production design, widescreen compositions and lustrous color schemes are a delight.

He embellishes the political parable with a wealth of cultural references, notably to the cinema of Akira Kurosawa, whose rarely seen 1970 film Dodes’ka-den, about shanty dwellers at an urban trash heap, is an obvious influence.

The painstaking production design, widescreen compositions and lustrous color schemes are a delight. The A-list voice cast and throbbing music score by last year’s Oscar-winning composer Alexandre Desplat (The Shape of Water) also contribute to the overall impact.

Recommended viewing for Anderson fans, aesthetes, cinephiles… and also dog lovers and kids.

First Published: Jul 05, 2018 17:37:22


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