Animal Doctor USA

Our Home With the Dogs Show caption Artistic and personal growth … Our Home With the Dogs

This project charting the lives of seven young people over five years captures the intensity of youth, but lacks thematic coherence

Tue 24 Aug 2021 16.00 BST

Shot over the course of five years, this film, co-directed by Margarida Meneses and Madalena Fragoso, chronicles the lives of seven young people – and their dogs – who initially share an apartment in Lisbon, and then gradually move away as their paths diverge. Utilising different filming equipment, ranging from digital cameras to phones and computers, it is a wistful look at the intense feelings and camaraderie experienced in one’s youth. Emotions that, with the gift of distance and maturity, can feel bittersweetly foreign.

Nevertheless, while this compact film manages sporadically to convey a sense of loss, the editing lacks a thematic coherence. In the first half, the haphazardly put-together vignettes fail to articulate a sense of lived-in experience, the quotidian events rendered random and inconsequential. This is not to say that daily life is boring – Chantal Akerman’s documentaries, for example, are a testament to how mundanity can be engrossing. But here it seems that the inexperience of the film-makers is a handicap: scenes of people hanging out and having casual conversations come off as self-absorbed.

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The real pleasure comes near the end of the film. It is especially fascinating to witness, as the years pass, the camerawork slowly evolving into images of higher quality, as phone camera technology advances. The artistic growth of the film-makers is evident in the maturity of the compositions: the camera begins to be placed with actual intentionality. Equally intriguing is a recurring incident where someone rereads a particularly shattering entry in an old journal, only to feel completely detached from the event. There’s something of value in observing these personal changes and technical progress, but these moments of interest just don’t cohere into a substantial work.

• Our Home With the Dogs is available on 27 August on True Story.













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