For any of its actual quality, it’s a film where the central character thinks like, acts like and is a dog
The Art Of Racing In The Rain works as a piece, far better than it deserves to. The story of a racing driver who deals with great hardship, through the eyes of a dog, sounds like possibly the worst premise for a film ever. Yet somehow, Simon Curtis has made the feature watchable, with some definite positives.
Immediately drawing comparisons to films like A Dog’s Purpose (and its sequel), A Dog’s Way Home and any other feature seen from the eyes of a mutt or household animal, The Art Of Racing In The Rain differs in its lack of family focused fun; and that makes this a very different piece.
By knowing it isn’t aimed at a family dynamic, screenwriter Mark Bomback seems to have created a necessity for ultra hardship and a lengthy set of difficulties for Milo Ventmigilia’s Denny to overcome, landing inches away from the line of eye-rolling irritation. Earlier this year, Life Itself suffered from such a fate, but The Art Of Racing In The Rain has a more realistic edge to it, rather than purely relying on coincidental/destiny filled plot lines. That isn’t to suggest that it feels real, but it’s more comfortable to drift into.
However, harking back to the main centrepiece of the story, this is a film where the main character is a dog, bringing with it cold hard limitations. For any of its actual quality, it’s a film where the central character thinks like, acts like and is a dog. That removes some form of credibility and quality instantly, however impressive the final piece eventually becomes. Double this with a story that could have come from Denny’s point of view, his daughter Zoe’s point of view, or a series of characters views, it becomes a rather needless exercise. 2012’s What Maisie Knew is far more engaging coming from a child’s point of view which is put across particularly well. A dog will never allow that.
The Art Of Racing In The Rain does become a particularly exasperating piece and one with a consistent underlying reminder of how limiting it’s story actually is, but by ignoring that when it isn’t the most prominent element of the feature, there’s enjoyment to be had, and a sense of drama that outweighs much of the lower end of feature film dramatics.
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