Is it Isle of Dogs or I Love Dogs? Either way, the title is perfect. This new animated adventure from Wes Anderson brings the director back to his happy place with flairs of dark whimsy, a metaphorical storyline and an exciting percussive score.
Isle of Dogs follows Chief, King, Duke, Rex and Boss: five dogs who have been banished, alongside the rest of the canine species, from Megasaki City, a Japanese metropolis sitting under the iron fist of Mayor Kobayashi, the latest ruler in the powerful Kobayashi dynasty that has ruled the city for a century. When the Mayor decides to banish the dogs, his distant nephew, Atari, flies to the Isle of Dogs to rescue his guard dog and best friend, Spots. Atari joins up with the aforementioned dogs to find his lost friend.
The film boasts a brilliant voice cast with stars like Bryan Cranston, Bill Murray, and Jeff Goldblum, alongside so many other heavyweights that I couldn’t possibly name them all. I loved the deadpan humor delivery from each and every character. The quirky comedy here contrasts well with the darker nature of the story below the surface.
That story being xenophobia over immigration, at least in my interpretation. That meaning became clear over the course of the film as you get the sense that the Mayor is pressuring his people to fear the dogs, thus causing the crowd to blindly follow his demand to send the animals away. Does that mentality sound familiar to anyone else? Just me?
The Alexandre Desplat (fresh off his Academy Award win for The Shape of Water) score here is so exciting. It sets the mood early on in the film by drawing from Japanese influence while adding pieces of a traditional, quirky Anderson score. I loved the music so much. It fits so well with this very unique, stop motion animation style that had me entranced from the moment the film began.
Isle of Dogs might be one of the most interesting films I’ve seen in awhile. It stays consistent with the normal Wes Anderson style and was both emotionally gripping and light and airy at the same time. It’s a must see for anyone who loves dogs or anyone who needs to see something that will lift you up. Check it out this weekend.
(I own no photos)