Isle of Dogs – the new film from Wes Anderson, director of The Grand Budapest Hotel – has to be the most strangely satisfying film I have seen in a while.
Isle of Dogs is set in Japan and portrays a dystopian future where, because of fleas and viruses, all dogs are banished to ‘Trash Island’. This sets Atari, voiced by Koyu Rankin, on a journey to find his dog, Spots. Conditions on Trash Island are, as the name suggests, hostile and inhumane; no place for a 12 year old boy.
In this film, Anderson intelligently gives us a perspective of both the dogs and humans through an exquisitely constructed story.
The film did have issues, however. After leaving the film with a positive view, I read that some others found the film to have taken a stereotypical and insulting view of Japanese culture. After having this pointed out to you, it is quite difficult to miss. The Japanese characters were all yelling without subtitles, the film featured sumo wrestlers, sushi and Yoko Ono, and the mayor even had Japanese gang tattoos on his back. Also, the moral force in the film is an American exchange student rather than a Japanese character. In some ways, you could argue that the film ridiculed Japanese culture rather than explore it.
This being said, the film itself was very good and although it lacked culturally, it certainly did make up for it with superb storytelling, music and characters. The film’s UK release date is 30 March 2018 and it’s worth a watch.