My Dog Tulip is a witty alternative to the generally mawkish Hollywood 'animal movies'
In complete contrast to Marley and Me, that miserable master-and-mutt movie which managed to be both cutesy and mawkish and yet still picture life with a pooch as utterly abhorrent, this animated feature is witty, wistful, honest and insightful in its warts-an-all appraisal of the relationship between one man and his dog. The man in this instance is JR Ackerley (voiced by Christopher Plummer), who was the literary editor of the BBC magazine The Listener and upon whose marvellous 1956 memoir this film is based. The dog is the titular Tulip, an unruly German shepherd who spent 15 happy years with Ackerley beginning in 1946 when her master was 50 years old, ageing, gay and in a lonely place.
Filmmakers Paul and Sandra Fierlinger have captured the content and tone of Ackerley’s 1956 book perfectly, from the author’s fascination with his dog’s toilet and sexual habits to his seamless shifts, as narrator, between bemusement and exasperation. And the lovely looking 2D animation (which looks more like Sylvain Chomet than Walt Disney and is the first of its kind to be entirely hand drawn and painted using paperless computer technology, apparently) makes for an inspired visual representation of Ackerley’s concise commentary. Woof!
Cameo, Edinburgh from Fri 6 May; GFT, Glasgow from Sun 15 May.