For Opening Night 2016, SUFF Welcomes you to the Doghouse! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wince, and you’ll sigh - such isthe genius ofWiener-Dog a cutthroat comedy brimming with brilliantly caustic and truthful observations about the human condition. Reviving his beloved character Dawn Wiener, the geeky kid who won our hearts in Welcome to the Dollhouse, auteur and agitator extraordinaire Todd Solondz crafts a nihilistic portmanteau of stories linked solely by changing ownership of an adorable dachshund. Elegantly shot by Todd Haynes’ go-to-cinematographer Edward Lachman (Carol, Far From Heaven) and playing like Au Hazard Balthazar in the burbs or a twisted version of Lassie for misanthropes, Wiener-Dog combines a brilliant mix of surrealism with searing deadpan humor. The film follows Dawn Wiener (Greta Gerwig), now a veterinary technician who adopts the eponymous pup.
Everything goes awry when Brandon McCarthy (Kieran Culkin), Dawn’s old boyfriend comes back into her life - all hooked on heroin. The hound soon goes on to play the straight mutt to the tragicomic lives of a young cancer-survivor stuck between squabbling parents (Julie Delpy and Tracy Letts), a failed film professor who stands in for Solondz himself (Danny DeVito) and an embittered senior who suffers visions warning of the road less travelled (Ellen Burstyn). Growing increasingly dark as the film progresses, Wiener-Dog is a blisteringly funny, wondrously warped look at the absurdity of life and death from one of contemporary cinema’s most fearless and distinctive voices.
Dir: Todd Solondz | USA | 2016 | 90mins | Australian Premiere
“Todd Solondz doesn’t care about the audience’s comfort and his films have a ruthless, unblinking stare, almost refreshing in their uncompromising attitude (especially in comparison with the industry’s pathological desire for happy endings).”