A 12-year-old boy (Anton Glanzelius) is sent to stay with an aunt and uncle in the country when his mother becomes ill. As he learns, with the help of the locals, to cope with her illness and his own propensity for mischief, he compares himself to Leika, the Russian dog shot into space. The novel on which the film is based is largely autobiographical.
Simultaneously elegiac and raw, My Life as a Dog
is an uneven--but unforgettable--tearjerker which tells the story of Ingemar, a 12-year-old working-class Swedish boy sent to live with his childless aunt and uncle in a country village when his mother falls ill. Beginning with several representations of the most savage, unsentimental domestic intensity imaginable (interplay between a sick parent and loving child has never looked anywhere near as explosive), My Life as a Dog
wisely doesn't attempt to maintain that level of danger; rather, the change in locale to rural Sweden is accompanied by a slackening of pace and a whimsical breeziness. Nevertheless, the tragic condition of Ingemar's mother (and later, the indeterminate fate of Sickan, his beloved dog, consigned to a kennel) hovers over the narrative with a gripping portentousness. At times, director Lasse Hallström misplaces the rhythm, and the film threatens to degenerate into a series of rustic vignettes; luckily, Ingemar's relationship with Gunnar, the jocular yet somewhat sinister uncle who essentially adopts him, carries a fascinating charge. This was later rewritten, whether intentionally or not, by Spike Lee, who changed the gender of the child, set the story in New York City, added a 1970s soul soundtrack, and called it Crooklyn
. Swedish, with subtitles --Miles Bethany, Amazon.com