Katz’s film is an understated, elliptical work that speaks volumes in its pointed quietude.
Ana Katz’s The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet appears at first to be a quiet, unassuming slice of life, the story of a man in his thirties coming of middle age and dealing with the setbacks of life under capitalism. But just when it seems easy to pin down, the film proves more elusive, never opaque in its intentions but slippery in its structure and filled with unexpected touches that let it expand far beyond what meets the eye. Most impressive is Katz’s ability to convey a life — and a world beyond it — in surprising detail without ever overburdening her film’s slight, 70-minute frame.
At the outset, the film finds Sebastián (Daniel Katz) in a series of predicaments caused by his dog. First, his neighbors complain that it cries constantly while Sebastián is at work — its loneliness due to an unspecified tragedy that the neighbors whisper about. Then, he’s fired from his graphic design job for bringing the dog to work every day in response. Sebastián finds himself out of work and in a new home when the dog, apparent catalyst for his misfortune, is killed in an accident, the event and its aftermath portrayed in hand drawn sketches. The use of sketches may be borne out of budgetary necessity — and their recurrence later certainly is — but, in this moment, they give the impression of an incident too painful to look at directly. The rough animation lends itself to the feeling of a memory, as the film quickly jumps forward in time once again. Down and out, Sebastián finds himself moving from temp job to temp job. Eventually he falls in with a farming cooperative, records a seemingly anti-capitalist podcast, and finds himself in love.
By this point, The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet has painted a compelling, ramshackle portrait of Sebastián entering his midlife through a collage of moments rather than anything conventionally narrative. Whole sections of his life, the big moments that make up the bulk of most movies of this ilk, are here left to ellipses. That those absent events can be inferred within moments of the next scene starting but without excessive hand-holding points towards Katz’s ability to make the specific universal. The film refreshingly swerves away from overbearing incident — there are notably no outbursts or fights in the movie, only their aftermath — in favor of a pointed quietude. This section of Sebastián’s life is clearly tumultuous, his employment and personal relationships so tenuous they rarely recur from one scene to the next, but there is little overt tension or conflict to the film.
A late twist introduces a farcical science fiction element and reveals Dog to be a pandemic film, but its concerns remain unchanged. Throughout, Katz’s film is about class and circumstance shaping the lives of working people. The dog who wouldn’t be quiet may not have been long for this world, but his cries linger as if they’re just one of any number of things that could throw a life into disarray.
You can currently stream Ana Katz’s The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet on Mubi.