This low-budget movie about dealing with the death of a pet is more moving than a dog.
Year of the Dog stars Molly Shannon (Superstar, "Saturday Night Live") as Peggy who feels more withdrawn when her Pencil leaves her. But, this single woman will try to rebound from this loss and Shannon is admirable in creating a singular, sympathetic character. It works in an effort outside Hollywood, as Peggy might be cherished by another director other than Mike White as a zany, PETA person.
This offbeat, intimate story by White, in his directorial debut (known for writing the likes of The Good Girl), can be touchy, but also wry and fluffy. Pet owners and women will be most interested in how this wistful woman moves on.
White has a flavorful comedic touch with the material, which, for him, is more sketchy, given his sharp background into handling pathos. There is palpable sentiment here, not of the puppy or saccharine type, as Peggy's distraught nature becomes estranging to say the least.
In backup, Peter Sarsgaard (Jarhead) is likeable as Newt, an odd dog lover, and John C. Reilly is Peggy's virile neighbor who gets to hear the long barkings of the new strays Peggy keeps. Regina King is piquant as one of Peggy's marriage advocating co-workers, and Laura Dern, who continues to show much range in independent film (as David Lynch can attest to), is a scene-stealer as a vigilant, yet nearly hyper mother.
Year of the Dog laps up the ignored character like Peggy to a modest degree of success, even if its greatest revenues won't come until its ancillary release.