A bizarre and engaging series of vignettes, THE DOG WHO WOULDN’T BE QUIET is (quite literally) a shaggy dog story of the small incidents that send life spiralling in different directions. Ana Katz’s film highlights this precariousness with a sweeping tale (albeit executed with efficient brevity) with absurdly comic interludes and a gentle performance from her brother Daniel in the lead.
The story follows Sebastian (Daniel Katz), with the film opening with his neighbours discussing the mournful cries of his dog, howling in pain while he is at work. After losing his job for bringing his dog to work, we follow Sebastian in numerous time jump segments as he moves jobs, finds new relationships, and deals with family life and concerns amidst a strange pandemic.
The film covers many years of adult life in a mere 73-minute run time, and there is an impression of a swiftly-snowballing effect from the inciting incident of the dog who wouldn’t be quiet. There is an evident feeling of cause-and-effect from each event to the other, the editing creating those connections both within scenes and in jumping from one to the next. One particularly arresting example sees Sebastian lock eyes with a woman at a garden party before a jump cut to her pregnancy by him.
Beyond this, the visual storytelling within each segment is frequently sublime. In one scene, a hungry and struggling Sebastian eyes up a discarded sandwich on a train, with the food occupying the frame and film in much the same way it obsessively occupies Sebastian’s thoughts. The film’s characters must avoid the illness that defines later segments with a comically absurd method, which is also heartbreaking; it acts as an absurdist signifier of class difference and parental sacrifice. Katz’s concepts here act as a form of reductio ad absurdum for the film’s themes. Extrapolating the inequalities and difficulties experienced by many of the film’s subjects amplifies the unfairness of much of their experience, and the viewer’s reactions to that unfairness.
A beautifully shot film, THE DOG WHO WOULDN’T BE QUIET is a cinematic ballad to how humans are tested (often unfairly), how we adapt to even absurd circumstances, and how we develop connections – or, indeed, do not – with those around us. Katz’s film is filled with compassion for its lead, which generates empathy with an effortlessness that seems simple but is not.