Thursday, November 08, 2007

Year of the Dog

Year of the Dog (Mike White, 2007) [5]

In Mike White's films, especially The Good Girl and Chuck & Buck, his characters very often have very disturbing personality traits but somehow manage to come across as harmless despite their disturbances. My biggest problem with this film is that is how Peggy (Molly Shannon) comes across to me and I just don't buy it. This doesn't mean Peggy's characterization is wrong; the supporting characters themselves are so wrapped up in their own preoccupations that they are all conveniently oblivious to Peggy's tailspin. The film as a whole works in its logic, it just my personal opinion that I don't like how it turns out. Peggy's transformation after the death of her dog turns her into a very traumatized and dangerous person. Peggy's deterioration comes off mostly as harmless and by the end, everything gets resolved, not completely happy, but there is resolution. What I'm trying to say is that I find it hard to believe what happens to here would not be noticed by somebody and the resolution of her conflict would be a little bit more substantive. Peggy turns into a vegan animal rights activist and while I don't think that automatically makes her a "nut", I think the way Shannon plays it makes it very hard to get away from some preconceived notions about PETA and their ilk. It's a shame my outside baggage weighs this film down because there are some really good performances here, especially by Shannon who does a great job skipping back and forth from emotional states. Even with all of her disturbances and trauma, her character still wants to be seen as harmless and for once in a Mike White written film, I have a hard time believing.

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