Our Rating: ★★★★☆
L Factor: Gender Bender
Short Take: Growing up (without a dog)
Alternate Titles: Mitt liv som hund
Year: 1985
Duration: 101 min
Language: Sweden/Swedish
MPAA: PG-13
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Writer: Reidar Jonsson, Lasse Hallstrom
Starring: Anton Glanzelius, Tomas von Bromssen, Anki Liden, Melinda Kinnaman

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My Life as a DogMy Life as a Dog is a small Swedish film that hit it big with a Best Director Oscar nomination for Lasse Hallstrom and a Golden Globe win for Best Foreign Language Film. Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules, The Shipping News, Chocolat) calls it his best work.

It is hard to describe just what makes it so good, but there is something special about this film. It is a very simple story about a twelve year boy whose mother is terminally ill. Ingmar (Anton Glanzelius) is sent to live with an uncle in a small Swedish town in 1959, separated from his mother, brother and beloved dog.

Young Ingmar tries to understand life and death, feeling like a throw-away that no one wants. To cope, he often refers to his situation as not that bad in relation to others. In particular, he focuses on Laiki, the German Shepherd the Russians put into space without a plan for his return.

The bright spot in Ingmar’s life is Saga (Melinda Kinnaman), a girl who binds her chest so she can pass as a boy and box. Ingmar and Saga fight in the ring and become friends outside of it, something Ingmar needs in his life, even after it is Saga who forces him to accept the fact that both his mother and dog are dead.

This is a very sensitive, coming of age film – charming and heartwarming. (AB)