Todd Solondz is back after 2011’s Dark Horse with an anthology film only he can conjure.
Wiener-Dog starts off with an upper middle-class family of three adopting a Dachshund. The parent’s son loves the dog to all hell and sees it as another living being with rights, as the parents see the dog as most people see pets subconsciously, as nothing more than accessories to a household that may endure any abuse to conform to the hierarchy of a family. The Dachshund is then passed on ironically to the grown up Dawn Wiener (of Welcome to the Dollhouse) who in her loneliness treats the wiener dog like her baby and her link to widened companionship. The third owner of the hopeful hound is a remorseful screenwriting teacher who would rather sell s script than teach, being the butt of every joke amongst his students. The final owner is a bitter grandmother who’s disillusioned from the experience of being blind and only being visited by her granddaughter years at a time.
Wiener-Dog is Todd Solondz’s most adventurously funny piece yet while being straightforward and subtly delivering its point at the same time. Like many of his films Wiener-Dog paints a beneath portrait of the real world, with characters spouting questions and getting direct core truth answers in return like lines such as; “....The breaking of will is to force character and that force of character makes you, you.” Or characters spouting underlining phrases that mark an unconscious social reality like; “I’ve always wanted a leash.” Solondz also takes things further in this film with his use of appointed yet ambiguous meaning with sounds and visuals, such as unconscious racism in all of us and truthfully parody of what we think to be marital life and the next step in a healthy relationship. Solondz also creates a tone throughout the film in which he has become the master of. A tone of dread created from indifferent behaviour and long silences accompanied with an abrupt end that genuinely make you feel the only the worst is to come.
Now I wouldn’t say Todd Solondz has ever made a movie that can be considered accessible but I would say in the sense of cinematography and plot this is his most accessible film to date. With bright colors and a story that allows hilarity and jovial touches sprinkled throughout the movie, and not to mention a stellar well known cast, this could very well be the touch stone of a Todd Solondz novice.
Wiener-Dog isn’t a complete home run ie; Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness. However its direction and themes are important enough and rare enough to be seen as a home run. As it reminds us more and more that the world is as least earnest as it’s always been and our oldest, most contradictory human ideologies will never change.
- Maurice Jones