Film: “A Dog’s Purpose”; Director: Lasse Halstrom; Cast: Josh Gad (as the voice of Bailey) and Dennis Quaid; Rating: ****(4 stars)
This unabashed ode to canine affections is so pure at heart, you are inclined to overlook its syrupy over-sentimental tone of narration and look directly at a heart that beats purely for the sake of unconditional love.
“A Dog’s Purpose” is a simple doggie’s tale told with the kind of concise sighing punctuations that director Lasse Hallstrom (“The Cider House Rules”, “An Unfinished Life”, “The Hundred-Foot Journey”) specialises in.
Here , in telling the story of a dog that lives through several lives with loving doting caring owners (well, almost all of them are loving), the director lays open all the doors and windows of the heart to undertake an excursion that is evangelical and exhilarating. The film’s presiding premise of a love so pure it transcends languages and lives, is so fluently pounded into the narrative, we are often left teary-eyed, stifling sobs as Bailey, the dog-hero (or the “boss dog” as he’s called by his beloved owner) goes from one beautifully crafted and lovingly shot episode after another.
As director Lasse does a ‘Lassie’ (remember the beloved doggie TV series and movies from the 1960s?), we are made a part of a world which is arcadian in spirit and ruptured by tragedy once in a while: a devastating fire, a drunken scene of domestic violence, and, worst of all, our dog-hero abandoned by one of his owners — such are the interludes that shake our belief in the triumph of humanism over all adversity.
We first meet Bailey as attached to a little boy Ethan. The bonding between the two is so deep and indelible, we know it will outlast fate’s temporal blows. The film makes a panoramic statement on the quality of inviolable affection shared between a canine and his owner. You don’t have to be a dog lover to love “A Dog’s Purpose”. But if you are a dog lover, this is the film you want to take with you when are marooned on an island.
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