A review of the new film “Isle Of Dogs”

If you live in London (as I do), then the Isle of Dogs is a former area of dockland bounded by a major meander in the River Thames. In this case of this move, however, it is a fictional island opposite the Japanese metropolis of Megasaki City headed by a cruel mayor who expels all dogs from the city to the island on the ground that they are a health threat to local citizens. It’s not difficult to see this as a liberal-minded allegory for how we threat any group in society which is seen as different.

But this is not an overtly political film because of its utterly whimsical style – after all, this is a work directed and written by Wes Anderson who never does things conventionally and whose last production was the wonderful “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. This time – as with his earlier “Fantastic Mr Fox” – the whole thing is a beautifully-rendered stop-motion animation with some striking visuals but, in spite of the certification and the involvement of a 12 year old pilot, this is not a children’s film. It is just too quirky, with all the references to Japanese culture (including exciting taiko drumming) and the use of Japanese language (not always translated).

The speaking cast is simply incredible with a dozen well-known actors voicing the different dogs, including Bryan Cranstan, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, and Jeff Goldblum plus (in smaller roles) Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton. Some scenes seem random and unexplained, but the whole thing is so charming and enjoyable that it doesn’t need to make complete sense to be an unusual delight of a movie.


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