The Swedish film “My Life as a Dog” is an adaptation of the second installment in a trilogy of novels by Reidar Jönsson, which are based on the author’s personal life. It tells the story of Ingemar Johansson (Anton Glanzelius), a 12-year-old kid who tends to make trouble for his mother (Anki Lidén).
Unbeknownst to Ingemar, his mother is terminally ill, and when his and his brother Erik’s (Manfred Serner) fighting becomes too much for her to bear, she sends the boys off to live separately for a while. Thus begins Ingemar’s coming of age tale, as he meets eccentric locals while living with his uncle Gunnar (Tomas von Brömssen) and his wife Ulla (Kicki Rundgren), and ultimately has to deal with his mother’s declining health.
“My Life as a Dog” is a captivating portrayal of a boy coming to terms with tough moments in life, and his will to make sense of the world around him. As described by Molly Haskell in Vogue: “This is a coming-of-age film in the fullest sense of the term: we watch Ingemar grow up before our eyes, and turn into a human being who can live with the harsh memories as well as the more lyrical ones.” Another big fan of the film, perhaps unexpectedly, was the legendary sci-fi author Kurt Vonnegut, of “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “Breakfast of Champions” fame, who said that the movie “made me like life and human beings much more than I had ever done before. Quite a favor!” (via CriterionCast). Hard to imagine better praise than that.
You can watch “My Life as a Dog” now on HBO Max.