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  • Ella Noonan

Why 'Isle of Dogs' is My New All Time Favourite Film, Ever.



Until about a month ago when I went with my dad and brother to see ’Red Sparrow’, I hadn’t visited the cinema in well over a year, if not two. It was here that I fist saw the trailer for Wes Anderson’s new film, Isle of Dogs, and it was here that I knew I was going to be in for a treat. So when I came back for the Easter break and my older brother suggested we go see it; the plan was to use my 9 year old sister as a decoy for the fact that we were both fully grown adults going to see an animated story about dogs.

So, imagine my betrayal when I wake up, heavily hungover from an entire Good Friday of drinking, only to discover my entire family went to see it without me. All I can say is snakes don’t hiss, they leave you to sleep while they all see the film you so longed to see.

Anyway, I digress, this isn’t a rant about how even the ones you love can be back stabbing traitors at times, it’s an appreciation post for an excellent film. So, I managed to find pretty much my only friend who didn’t snigger and say with a confused look on their face “But Ella, that’s a children’s film?” I revelled in excitement just knowing I was actually going to see it on the big screen. And boy, it did not disappoint.

From the offset it boasted a distinct stylistic approach true to Wes Anderson; think Fantastic Mr Fox (which just so happens to be another of my all-time favourites). By no means were the animations particularly polished or flashy like an uber-realistic Pixar film, but it was this rawness that added to the narrative of the film. I don’t want this to be misconstrued, in spite of the stop-start and almost handmade approach to the film, it certainly didn’t lack detail – if anything, they thought of absolutely everything and then some.

I don’t want to give too much away on the chance that whoever’s reading this does the smart thing and goes out immediately to give it a watch. Nevertheless, to give you a brief understanding of the film; it’s set in Japan and revolves around the idea that all dogs have to be exiled to a desolate island known as ‘trash Island’ due to a sudden outbreak of dog flu. Inevitably not everyone’s too happy about their household pets being banished away to fend for themselves, which leads to the disappearance of the mayors 12 year old, orphaned nephew who sneaks off on a plane in an attempt to find his dog. The film follows his journey and the canine friends he makes along the way. Expect complex character profiles in the form of our favourite four legged friends, conspiracy theories and heartbreak.

A key element within the film is the fact that it doesn’t skimp on authenticity as many films do when it comes to where it’s set. Japanese characters are voiced by Japanese actors, I appreciate this shouldn’t be a big ask but just look at ‘Ghost in the Shell’ for example, need I say more. And more interestingly, it was refreshing to see a film aimed at kids that didn’t shy away from incorporating the Japanese language but at the same time didn’t detract from the beauty of the film with subtitles. Instead of subtitles, the language barrier was cleverly overcome through means such as television news reporters recounting the events, translators, and even a foreign exchange student.

One of the most important factors is the fact that despite its PG rating and animated exterior, I’ve seen some rom-coms that are probably more appropriate for kids if I’m honest. I would say roughly 90% of the discourse it contains and a lot of the themes covered aren’t typically child friendly chit chat. Luckily for my younger sister who went and all the other parents who took their young ones to a seemingly innocent film, most of the references subtle enough to go straight over the head of anyone below the age of 12-13. Anyone who’s seen Fantastic Mr Fox would be aware that with it’s all star cast and incredibly witty humour, it’s as much for kids as it is for adults. So bear that in mind and then times it by 58 because Isle of Dogs is all that with a hint of suicide talk (hung by his own dog lead to be precise) and more than frequent references to sex or should I say “mating”.

It’s incredibly dark if not a little twisted yet manages to keep its charm intact through it’s likeness to no other film as well as the narrative underpinning the basis of the whole film, the love between a boy and man’s best friend.