Anderson recalls her childhood, the death of her mother, the aftermath of 9/11 which is brought to mind by the thought of hawks attack her dog and Lolabelle's reaction. Text appears on screen. Animation, musical interludes, scratchy, abstract imagery - the snow falls in the woods. Some of it is funny. Some of it is moving. More of it is plain dull. However, Anderson also has things to say about the world and, in particular, the surveillance that has become part of our lives since the attack on the Twin Towers and the beginning on the War on Terror. There is a genuine social concern here and a sense of us all being animals, lost in the woods. Melancholy pervades the cine-essay, especially as she recalls the death of her mother and her own hospitalisation following a terrible childhood accident. In this account she admits to the basic ellipses that storytelling almost inevitably produces. The other children in the ward whose suffering is forgotten; their sudden fatal absences. Storytelling is not so much a way of remembering and holding those memories as it is of forgetting. Anderson fans and dog lovers - or, ideally, a combination of the two - may get more out of Heart of a Dog, but if instead you're someone who gets enough of other people's pets on Facebook, you might want to give this one a miss.
The 72nd Venice Film Festival takes place from 2-12 September 2015. For more coverage, follow this link.
John Bleasdale | @drjonty