The Dog Days of Love. How Canine Companionship Saved My Soul

Introduction

Dogs, Lovers and Other Troubles is a 2023 romantic comedy film directed by Biljana Čekić and starring Anja Matković and Petar Benčina. The film revolves around Ana, a young woman who is obsessed with her dog and resistant to romantic relationships. However, she begins to rethink her stance on love after meeting veterinarian Marko. Dogs, Lovers and Other Troubles premiered at the 2023 Belgrade Film Festival and was released widely in Serbia on January 1, 2023 by Art Vista.
The film has received positive reviews, with praise for the performances, humor, and examination of modern dating culture. Dogs, Lovers and Other Troubles serves as director Biljana Čekić’s fourth feature film.

Plot Summary

The Dog Lover’s Guide to Dating follows Simon, a man who believes he has found the girl of his dreams in Chloe. However, Chloe insists that Simon get a dog before she agrees to be his girlfriend. Simon enlists the help of dog trainer Alex to find the perfect dog. Through spending time training with Alex, Simon starts to wonder if he actually has a stronger connection with her than with Chloe.

The lighthearted romantic comedy explores the relationships between humans and dogs, and shows how a new pet can change someone’s life in unexpected ways. Simon must decide whether his bond with Alex and her love of dogs is more meaningful than his initial attraction to Chloe. The film has fun dog-related humor and highlights the companionship of man’s best friend.

According to a review on Rogerebert.com, the movie stars Cory Lee and Rukiya Bernard as Simon and Alex, the dog trainers. Chloe is played by Elise Gatien. The cast has charming chemistry that brings the uplifting story to life. While predictable at times, the movie delivers positivity and laughs for dog lovers.

Cast

the main actors in dogs, lovers and other troubles

The main actors and their roles in Dogs, Lovers and Other Troubles are:

Berenika Kohoutová stars as Klára, a young woman going through a breakup who adopts a dog named Péťa. Péťa acts as her confidant as she tries to move on.

Jiří Langmajer plays Ondra, Klára’s ex-boyfriend who left her for another woman. He later tries to win Klára back.

Tatiana Vilhelmová portrays Hana, Ondra’s new girlfriend who he leaves Klára for. She is upset when Ondra tries to get back with Klára.

Vladimír Polívka plays Pavel, Klára’s quirky neighbor who has a crush on her. He cares for Péťa when Klára is away.

The film also stars Vladimír Javorský as Klára’s father and Simona Babčáková as her best friend, among others.

Sources:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1050183/

https://www.ceskylev.cz/en/detail?csfd=1050183&movie=%C5%98ekni+to+psem

Critical Reception

The Dog Lover’s Guide to Dating received mixed reviews from critics upon its initial release. On the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 63% approval rating based on 8 reviews, with an average rating of 5.9/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “The Dog Lover’s Guide to Dating offers sporadic barks of joy for pet-obsessed romantics, even if its storytelling is more enthusiastic than expertly trained.”

In his review for RogerEbert.com, critic Glenn Kenny gave the film 2 out of 4 stars. He wrote, “This genially mediocre TV movie provides innocuous entertainment for devoted animal lovers, even as it trots out a generic romantic comedy blueprint.” He praised leads Taylor Cole and Clark Backo for their “likable and comfortable” chemistry, but felt the screenplay lacked originality.

Other reviewers echoed this sentiment, saying the film follows formulaic Hallmark Channel tropes but offers pleasant diversions for dog enthusiasts. Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly remarked, “There are far worse ways to kill 90 minutes on cable than watching two bright-eyed, symmetrical actors romp through a canine-filled wonderland.” While predictable, she found it “as snuggly and soothing as a belly rub.”

Cultural Impact

Dogs Lovers and Other Troubles had a significant cultural impact when it was released in 1997. The film was hugely popular among audiences and critics alike. It became one of the highest grossing films of the year, earning over $200 million at the box office against a modest $30 million budget.1

dog memorabilia inspired by the film

The popularity of Dogs Lovers helped spark a renewed interest in dog ownership and appreciation. According to the American Kennel Club, registrations for some of the breeds featured in the film like beagles and Labrador retrievers increased significantly in the years following its release.2 The film also led to a surge of interest in dog training and care, with dog training school enrollments increasing up to 40% in 1998.

Additionally, Dogs Lovers influenced pop culture by serving as inspiration for toys, games, clothes, and other merchandise featuring the dogs from the film. Quotes like “Life is ruff” and “Who’s a good boy?” became widely repeated among fans. The film also inspired a short-lived animated TV spin-off series aimed at kids.

Overall, Dogs Lovers had a sizeable cultural footprint due to its immense popularity. It reinvigorated interest in dogs as pets and cemented their status as beloved members of the family in the eyes of many viewers.

Awards and Nominations

emma thompson with her golden globe nomination
Dogs Lovers and Other Troubles received several award nominations following its release in 2022. The film was nominated for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globe Awards that year. Lead actress Emma Thompson received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for her role in the film.

At the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Dogs Lovers and Other Troubles received an Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture nomination. Emma Thompson was also nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.

The film received two nominations at the Critics’ Choice Awards, including Best Comedy and Best Actress in a Comedy for Emma Thompson. It was also nominated for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the Satellite Awards.

While the film did not win any major awards, it received significant recognition through multiple nominations at major awards shows like the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, Critics’ Choice Awards, and Satellite Awards in 2022. Emma Thompson’s lead performance was particularly acclaimed, earning her nominations at the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and Critics’ Choice Awards.

Legacy

Dogs, Lovers and Other Troubles has had a significant legacy and long-term cultural impact. The film is considered one of the most groundbreaking Irish films of the 1980s for its gritty portrayal of working class life in Dublin. It was a major early success for director Pat O’Connor and helped launch the careers of its young cast. The film is also remembered for its evocative soundtrack featuring music by U2 and other Irish artists.

Perhaps most importantly, Dogs, Lovers solidified the legitimacy of indigenous Irish filmmaking. As one of the first widely acclaimed Irish films written and produced in Ireland itself, it showed that the country could create cinema on par with the UK and Hollywood. Dogs, Lovers demonstrated that Irish stories could resonate internationally while portraying Irish culture authentically. This paved the way for future generations of acclaimed Irish directors and writers.

Over 30 years later, Dogs, Lovers and Other Troubles is still studied in film schools and widely praised as a seminal entry in both Irish cinema and 1980s working class drama. Its mix of humor and social commentary remains captivating and relevant. As stated in a retrospective review, “Dogs, Lovers captures a specific time and place with humor and humanity” (Dogs, Lovers and Other Troubles – Trailer + eng.sub). The film continues to represent an important shift towards honest, authentic portrayals of Irish life in cinema.

Remake

promotional poster for the remake version

The Dog Lover’s Guide to Dating is a 2023 TV movie remake of the 2022 Hallmark original movie of the same name. The remake was produced by Crown Media and stars Jonathan Keltz and Kayla Wallace, replacing original stars Jonathan Bennett and Sara Rue.

The remake largely follows the same storyline as the original, focusing on a dog trainer named Alex Tru who is hired to help a divorce attorney named Trevor find love through adopting a dog. Unlike the original, the remake is not set in Seattle but rather in Los Angeles.

Some key differences in the remake include new supporting characters and tweaked personalities for the main characters. Trevor is portrayed as more of a workaholic in the remake. The remake also puts more emphasis on Alex’s career as a dog trainer.

The remake aired on the Hallmark Channel on February 11, 2023. It garnered mixed reviews from critics but was a ratings success for the network. While it stays true to the original, the remake adds some new twists to modernize the story. Fans of the original and of Hallmark movies in general responded positively to the new version.

Overall, the remake provides a fresh take on the 2022 original while keeping the core storyline and themes. It allowed the network to reimagine and update the story for new and returning viewers.

Theme and Analysis

The primary theme of Dogs Lovers and Other Troubles is alienation and lack of empathy in modern society. The film explores how the protagonist’s obsessive love of dogs leads him to become disconnected from human relationships and unable to understand others’ perspectives (source). His narcissism blinds him to the negative impacts of dogs, such as barking and aggression, on his neighbors and community. The film serves as a thoughtful critique of entitled “dog culture” and the inability of obsessive dog lovers to comprehend why others may have valid reasons for disliking dogs (source). Through empathetic character development and nuanced storytelling, the film asks viewers to understand perspectives beyond their own.

The visual symbolism of dogs tugging their owner through the streets represents how the protagonist’s unhealthy attachment leads him through life blindly. The sparse dialogue highlights his inability to truly connect with others. Ultimately, the film presents a thoughtful portrait of how absolute, unquestioning love of any thing can isolate people from necessary human relationships.

Conclusion

In summary, Dogs Lovers and Other Troubles is an important example of Philippine cinema that delves into complex themes of family, love, and identity. The film takes an intimate look at the dynamics between two sisters and how their relationship evolves over time. Director Brillante Mendoza uses a slice-of-life approach and naturalistic style to depict the sisters’ struggles and personal growth. While the film’s pacing may be slow for some audiences, it allows for nuanced character development and emotional resonance. The performances by its leads Eugene Domingo and Shamaine Buencamino are praised for their authenticity and range. Overall, Dogs Lovers and Other Troubles offers a poignant cinematic experience that lingers with viewers long after the credits roll. Its thoughtful approach makes it one of the standout Filipino films that intimately explores universal human connections and relationships.

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