William Wegman

film 43 of 46

The Kiss

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 15, 2015

This time the dog wins. Attached to and underpinning Wegman’s usual gag-leads-to-concept method is the relationship between the dog and his man, which is actually very deep and loving. It’s not just that Bill lets Man Ray lick him all over the place, which is just him being genially gross—look at his expression at the very end. They have fun together, and after it’s funny it’s very sweet.

Wegman’s The Kiss is actually quite similar to Norman McLaren and Claude Jutra’s A Chairy Tale (q.v.). That film, in addition to its tremendous technical and musical components, was a pretty rich parable about men and women, or service and consequent subordination between supposed equals, or any number of other things. This one suggests profundities about physical appetite and physical desire, especially when it applies to or is played out upon someone else’s body. The dog isn’t objectifying or dishonouring the man. But she’s hungry, and he’s got the dog bone! (In his mouth!)

As this whole situation plays out the man might well feel a little bypassed. A problem! And a difficult one. But then? She reaches, he turns. She reaches, he turns. Look at the amazing moment when she brings her paw into play. So simple. So portentous!