Land of the Singing Dog | Chicago Reader

Land of the Singing Dog

A distinguished film editor who's worked with Francois Truffaut (The Story of Adele H), Maurice Pialat (Under Satan's Sun), and Claire Denis (Nenette and Boni), Yann Dedet makes his feature directorial debut with this whimsical, quietly observant 2001 tale of a Japanese couple visiting a village in eastern France. The husband (Gen Shimaoka) is a musicologist intrigued by reports of a singing dog, and the wife (Katsuko Nakamura) is an anthropologist studying ancient religious rites, but they've also come to the region to conceive a child. Dedet documents the couple's mix of kimono-garbed tradition and electronic accessorizing, of mysticism and practicality, that piques the villagers' curiosity, and Nakamura and Shimaoka are understated and believable as obsessive academics. The striking cinematography captures the majestic beauty of the woods and lakes of the Jura region, though ultimately the film is too cryptic for its tragic end to stir any emotion. In French and Japanese with subtitles. 95 min.

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