Returning to stop motion almost a decade after his quirky 2009 spin on Rhold Dahl's iconic Fantastic Mr Fox, Wes Anderson gets his hands triumphantly back into the clay with Isle of Dogs. Set twenty years in the future in the Japanese archipelago, all dogs are banished to the uninhabited Trash Island after an outbreak of deadly dog flu. Alas a young boy steals an aeroplane to venture out to find his lost pooch Spots. Bryan Cranston, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johnson, Frances McDormand and recent Lady Bird director Greta Gerwig all join the little pilot on his journey.
Strands of scruffy, ragged fur, cotton wool clouds and a delicate Japanese city structure - with great whit and whimsy Anderson proves that every dog has its day. With his symmetrical visuals and intensely stylised structure Isle of Dogs emerges as Anderson's most nuanced and polished creation to date. Even more so than with his sumptuous Grand Budapest Hotel, Isle of Dogs achieves a perfect contrast between a riveting narrative and trademark, refined cinematography. Where Fantastic Mr Fox was perhaps a little too smug for my liking, possibly lacking the emotional engagement needed for a child's book adaption, through Anderson's winsome artistic flair along with a lighting fast script; Isle of Dogs delivers the beautiful tale of man's best friend.
Following his recent Oscar win with The Shape of Water - proving there is evidently no rest for the wicked - Alexandre Desplat returns with a haunting, original score of thumping Japanese drums and delicate woodwind, drizzling the picture in a sweet, hard boiled sugar coating. Painting a dystopian Japanese future, Anderson creates a charming, unlikely quest movie binding together a young orphan and five unlikely hounds. The film offers a surprisingly touching reminder of how dogs unite us, a crucial part of both our childhood and adulthood and a staple of the home dynamic - a certain love that no hamster or cat can ever provide.
This mongrel masterpiece is no dogs dinner. Isle of Dogs may assemble a cast of formidable voices but Bryan Cranston is positively the leader of the pack. Assertive yet distant, Chief is a brilliant new character to add to Cranston's acclaimed acting credits. Intriguingly, Anderson constructs a tight language barrier between the english speaking pup characters and the predominately Japanese humans, yet aside the odd subtitle or translation you understand everything that is happening.
With more bark and certainly more bite than anyone could've predicted, whether you are a dog lover or a Cruella de Vil sympathiser, Isle of Dogs is a brilliant examination of mankind's dependency on dog-kind. As well as achieving the pièce de résistance of his visual artistry - Anderson a captivating story constructed around the simple tale of man and his dog.
Isle of Dogs:
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.