Marona's Fantastic Tale

****1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Marona's Fantastic Tale
"Mother and son team Anca and Anghel Damian have created something special here by telling the story wholly from the dog's perspective."

Her name isn't really Marona. It isn't Sara or Ana either, despite what her past masters chose to call her. It's Neuf. She was the last puppy in a large litter produced by a very respectable bichon impregnated during an impulsive affair with an Argentinian mastiff; and though her mother loved her, her mother's human dumped her promptly at her father's door. She spent just 12 minutes with him before his owner picked her up, carried her into town and dumped her in a rubbish bin.

Marona's Fantastic Tale is not a film for the faint of heart. Let's cut straight to the chase: the dog dies at the start. She's no more than a smear on the tarmac when we meet her. As she spends the last moments of her life flashing back through everything that has happened to her, we get to accompany her through this gorgeously animated adventure.

Copy picture

Mother and son team Anca and Anghel Damian have created something special here by telling the story wholly from the dog's perspective. Not only the narrative keeps faith with this commitment - the camera angle is always at Neuf's height and we explore a world where smells are every bit as important as what we can see and hear. Given the squalid life that our heroine is at times forced to leave, as well as the general proclivities of dogs, you'll be relieved to hear that this is not another exercise in scratch 'n' sniff - rather, Anca's marvellously embellished visual plunge up into a landscape where key people and objects are signalled in advance by flickering images or flashes of colour, solidify as we get close and then trail away, little hints of them lingering like Neuf's enduring love.

There's a Dickensian aspect to this tale where a little dog bred for loyalty is passed from one master to another, often adored but inevitably disappointed. She finds her pleasure in doing her duty with surpassing faithfulness, devoting herself to each human despite her awareness that they're unreliable and not always very bright. there are some salient observations on the way that all too many humans treat animals in her bittersweet account - alongside reflections on the sheer joy of jumping up after a ball, the sense of fulfilment that comes from guarding rubble sacks and the delight of having a soft bed and a bone to call one's own.

Beautifully realised, this should be your film of choice if you want to persuade someone to adopt a puppy. It will make you want to take home every dog you meet for at least the next week. It's a little bit of magic.

Reviewed on: 13 Nov 2019
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Marona's Fantastic Tale packshot
After an accident, a little dog remembers all the different masters she's had successively and loved unconditionally.

Director: Anca Damian

Writer: Anghel Damian

Starring: Lizzie Brocheré, Bruno Salomone, Thierry Hancisse, Nathalie Boutefeu, Shirelle Mai-Yvart, Maïra Schmitt

Year: 2019

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: France, Romania, Belgium

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