The year is 1959. A young boy, Ingemar (Anton Glanzelius), is obsessed by two things - his namesake fighting for the World Heavyweight boxing title and the fate of Laika, the dog sent in to space by Russia.
As his mother's health deteriorates and she no longer has the strength to cope with him, Ingemar is sent to stay with relatives in the country, much like Laika's journey into the unknown. Dealing with feelings of innocence, love and abandonment, this magical film, directed by Lasse Hallstrom (Cider House Rules, Chocolat, What's Eating Gilbert Grape), is both hilarious and deeply moving.
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We bought this DVD because the film's director, Lasse Hallström, was also responsible for Chocolat, a magical film that tells of human frailties, rivalries and small-town politics but leaves you feeling good about life and wishing there was a bar of chocolate in the house. My Life as a Dog has the same light touch and the same sympathy for its characters, but the setting is altogether bleaker, much more in the typical Swedish mould of ordinary folk trying to survive in the face of terrible weather and everything going wrong. Its main focus is on the problems of childhood and growing up, its central character being a small boy to whom life has delivered a pretty duff hand of cards. He survives largely through the help and understanding of his uncle, a likeably unconventional character who is still able to see the world through a child's eyes. It's a genuinely touching film, sometimes amusing too, although we didn't emerge from it smiling as we did with Chocolat. More, it leaves you wondering at the resilience of human beings. You feel that these people will be okay, now the worst is over. Recommended, well worth an hour and a half of anyone's time.
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