Review: Mitt Liv Som Hund (My Life As A Dog, 1985)

mittlivsomhund

Do not, I repeat, do not fuck with the dog!

Written By: Per Berglund, Brasse Brännström, Lasse Hallström & Reidar Jönsson
Directed By: Lasse Hallström

Those fucking assholes killed his dog! If you want a tip on how to piss me off, show me a movie where a dog gets killed in some way, specifically one where a dog is killed through negligence, human idiocy or laziness. It’s a gut reaction, I know why these dogs are killed, but I still manage to become irate each and every time. It’s funny, because I can watch people getting killed nonstop and it doesn’t affect me, yet you even tell me that an innocent dog was killed and I lose it. I don’t hold this against the film, I’m not some crazy person, well I am, that sees something in a movie they don’t like and decides the movie is terrible as a result. But, I do hate seeing or hearing about dogs being killed, so I was mighty angry with this film.

Okay, now that I have cleansed myself of those issues, let’s move on to Mitt Liv Som Hund itself. This is the second film from Lasse Hallström I have experienced. The first was What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and there are many similarities between the two films. Hallström shows an affinity for life as we know it with some quirkiness added to spice things up. He doesn’t make event movies, Mitt Liv Som Hund doesn’t center around a big event, but a series of small events that add up to an overall experience for the characters, or one main character. The biggest event in the film is the death of the mother, but that is played quietly with no added trumpets or fanfare, and because of that it becomes but another moment in Ingemar’s life. Hallström has a penchant for slice of life moments as I like to call them, and I’m sure many other people do as well. These are small moments, that don’t appear important but end up very important. Hallström handles these moments so that they feel genuine. When Ingemar is boxing Saga and she leans in to clinch him but instead starts necking with him it is an honest moment. Moments like that help to give the picture a poignant and truthful feel.

I know that I, and I envision most other people are the same, take childhood for granted. Now that I am far removed from childhood and don’t have any children of my own I don’t put much stock into children or their world. I have forgotten, and no doubt will forget again, how confusing life can be for a child. Every child in Mitt Liv Som Hund is confused in some way or another. Whether it is about why people die, their own sexuality or what the female body looks like, they are all confused. That is the reality of childhood, it is a very confusing time for children. We are adults and even we recognize that we don’t have all the answers and never will have all the answers. Mitt Liv Som Hund very astutely points out the truth that children are more confused than we are as adults, they have none of the answers and don’t know how to get them.

The child actors in Mitt Liv Som Hund were all very good. Anton Glanzelius as Ingemar was believable in his role, maybe he was just as confused as his character, but either way I bought it completely. Melinda Kinnaman as Saga had perhaps the toughest role, but she pulled it off with great aplomb. She must be guarded yet at the same time open as Saga, and she manages to be both seamlessly. The adult actors are just as good as the kids, but this isn’t their picture, Mitt Liv Som Hund thoroughly belongs to the kids.

Outside of some story threads that feel unfinished and some lack of depth in a few supporting characters, Mitt Liv Som Hund doesn’t boast many flaws. This is the second film from Lasse Hallström that I have been engaged by and ended up liking a lot. Mitt Liv Som Hund is a well crafted slice of life picture about how life is very confusing. I know it’s confusing, you know it’s confusing, but you don’t know confusing until you see a dying man asking a young kid to read from a lingerie booklet for him.

Rating:

***1/2

Cheers,
Bill

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