At first glance, Wiener Dog is nothing more but a string of four episodes linked by one female dachshund. There seems to be no rising action, climax, no character or dramatic arc that usually structures a movie. But after sitting down and thinking about what this film could possibly mean, I came to find that tragedy is the common theme in all four episodes.
While the movie’s main character is the dog, whose name is changed all four times, the story lies between the owners she ends up with. Each one is at a different stage in their life, but they all come to meet tragedy, whether it be for the first time or the last. The cast includes Greta Gerwig, Julie Delpy, Danny DeVito, Ellen Burstyn, and Zosia Mamet.
Independent Film Writer and Director Todd Solondz, does a great job of slightly weaving each person together through brief mentions of the previous story. An example of this, which I found very clever, was the transition from the third character, a bitter male professor who is trying to sell his script, to the final story, an old woman who regrets much of her decisions in life. The professor had cancer, and when Wiener Dog is with the old lady, she tells her daughter she named the dog Cancer because “it felt right”.
This slight reference to the previous owner was very clever but was not enough to allow for a smooth transition. A lot of things in this film did not make sense, and even when I sat down to think about it, some things, like the ending, didn’t feel significant to the film.
Particularly the choice of scenes. At the beginning, the wiener dog had a bad case of diarrhea and Solondz seemed to think a minute long scene of simply filming the diarrhea along the side of the road was necessary. While it did add a sense of discomfort to the film, something Solondz is known for, it didn’t feel necessary to our understanding or to the film. There are a lot of moments like these that only adds to the bland feel of this project.
Being an indie film, I believe this is the type of movie that only indie film lovers will enjoy. For me, it was rough to get from start to end, and it isn’t necessarily a movie that dog lovers would enjoy, despite what the trailers and title leads you to believe. Wiener Dog releases Friday July 8th at the Sun Ray Cinema and deserves 5 stars out of 10.