Directed by Todd Solondz
Todd Solondz is an American independent writer/director with a knack for edgy, dark dramas that also work as mordant social satires.
The chosen topics, some of them controversial, range from loneliness and depression to child molestation, suicide, rape, as well as abnormalities and peculiarities within a particular family.
His incisive filmmaking style and depressing tones are preserved in “Wiener-Dog” his latest dark comedy-drama that follows a cute brown dachshund as it changes owners and moves from home to home. The film is segmented into four distinct short stories according to the different owners and habitats of the dog.
The first segment shows us the dog having trouble to survive after being adopted by a dysfunctional family. It features Tracy Letts as a maddened father, Julie Delpy as an insensitive mother, and the young Keaton Nigel Cooke as an innocent dog lover who survived cancer. Just nobody told him how to properly take care of the wiener-dog.
The second story brings us Greta Gerwig as a vet assistant who saves the poor animal from eternal sleep. Since she’s a lonely woman, the dog suits her well, but after bumping into a former schoolmate whom she follows to Ohio, she changes her plans.
This story felt simultaneously weird and derivative but presented a delicious musical moment when the couple gives a ride to three Mexican artists.
In the third installment, Danny De Vito is Dave Shmertz, a negativist film professor who is not appreciated by his students. Humiliation and frustration impel him to act drastically and abandon the dog.
The last little story features Ellen Burstyn as a bitter woman who decides to help her granddaughter and her eccentric artist boyfriend. It also marks the end of the dog’s life.
Mr. Solondz seems to have forgotten how to shock us, as he used to do with gems like “Happiness” and “Welcome to the Doll House”, a film that lent the character Dawn Wiener to this new creation.
Even addressing death and loneliness with an incomparable ironic vision, “Wiener-Dog” is plainly uneven and somewhat scattered along the way.