Lasse Hallström's 1985 film hugs your inner child. Info
A soothing sincerity permeates Lasse Hallström's exploration of pre-adolescent angst in his 1985 film, My Life As A Dog. Nominated for Academy Awards in both screenwriting and directing (very rare for a foreign-language film), the film is a delicate sort of cinematic hug for the viewer's inner child. Ingemar (Anton Glanzelius), the film's 12-year-old protagonist, narrates My Life As A Dog, his voiceover and an accompanying treacly piano score breaking up scenes from his life. Living with his brother and their considerably ill single mother, Ingemar ultimately is taken to live with his uncle in the small town of Småland when his mother has to go for a long-term stay at a hospital. When his mother eventually dies after a short return, Ingemar returns to the town to the loving embrace of the eccentrics he got to know during his original stint.
Among the odd characters that crowd My Life As A Dog, none may be more complicated than Ingemar himself. In film, explorations of sexual awakenings are often focused on older teenagers; The risky but ultimately rewarding gambit of My Life As A Dog, Scandinavian and liberated as it is, is to provide a frank focus on the nascent romantic longings of a pre-teen. We see the adult world of relationships through the eyes of an observer desperate to grow up but unsure how, especially considering his familial turmoil. Far from grafting adult desires onto a child (which would undoubtedly be creepy), the film understands the purity of children in a state of developmental flux. The film is at its best and most heartwarming when Ingemar's newfound community supports him regardless, providing an idyllic environment where he can heal and flourish. —Maxwell Courtright