Year of the Dog 
Starring: Molly Shannon, Laura Dern, Peter Saarsgard, John C. Reilly
Written and directed by: Mike White
now available on Netflix instant
In this touching and surprisingly sensitive film, an emotionally distant woman who has been living her life in a paint-by-numbers manner, suddenly, through a tragic event, begins to learn to let go and live by her own choices and for her own happiness. She has been one of those satisfied people all along. You know the type: okay job, decent car, a few friends, dinner and television at night, a beloved pet for company. An adequate, predictable, ordinary existence.
For years Peggy has held in her true feelings (theatrically-trained Molly Shannon shows enormous depth and range in this role) and suddenly explodes when her dog dies from poison. She looks the other way at work when her boss is inappropriate; she takes it from her uptight sister-in-law (a wonderfully over-the-top neurotic, yuppie Dern) and generally never makes waves.
Now Peggy exhibits all signs of the classic late bloomer. It is not too late for her to lead the life she’s always wanted to lead. She attacks her gun-toting neighbor (John C. Reilly), espouses the benefits of vegetarianism to her niece and adopts every dog in the pound. She also develops a friendship with a dog trainer (Saarsgard) and finds there’s more to her life than going to work every day. White has written an illuminating film about loneliness, desperation and the need to belong. It is a lovely, rewarding little treasure.
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