A Cat Called Dom


One of the most awkward aspects of having cancer is telling those close to you after you’ve been diagnosed. This awkwardness is twofold as the person you’ve told goes through a similar process of comprehending the news.

And just like the person told, they have to come to terms with this new information, with this bombshell affecting people in different ways.

boom reviews A Cat Called Dom
So this is my favourite hat of them all.

For animation filmmaker Will Anderson, it was to document the situation, and present it in a highly original way.

When Will’s mum informed him that she had cancer, he decides to make a film about it, which takes roughly five years to make. Although it was made for her, it’s predominantly made in response to her diagnosis, and his on-going reaction to it.

This includes creating a character, a black animated character called Dom, who almost becomes his virtual therapy pet, as Will deals with the emotional fallout from the news and everything else it entails.

boom reviews A Cat Called Dom
In a previous life I was a paper clip, but now they think a black cat will do the trick.

The good news here is that this is not a film about cancer. It feels more like a film about the filmmaker Will, whose mother just so happens to be diagnosed with it. It’s a creative curiosity, that’s truly layered, perhaps a little too much so.

It’s frustratingly busy at times, struggling to focus on any one thing for any length of time. There’s the animation he creates with his friend Ainslie, who co-directed the film itself, that comes across as a showcase of both their talents, but not much else.

There are all too few moments of Will spending time with his mother, and when they do, the camera is always in close-up, which is not only not particularly flattering, but also means we’re never seeing the complete picture – literally and figuratively.

Someone else who you would consider a major player is their dad, but he too hardly features, mostly in a odd scene that sees him take off in a glider into the distance, never seemingly to return.

So it’s all about Will; Will and his journey to Japan, Will and his on-going hair loss issue, Will and Ainslie acting out being birds for their animation project.

There are even scenes that are staged, which are later admitted to, which once again create a strain as to what is fact and what is fiction. So for a film that’s about his mother having cancer, it’s fairly self-absorbed.

So much so that any information as to his mother’s condition is completely omitted from it, even at the end of the film, which only goes to prove who the real ‘hero’ of Will’s story is.

Perhaps the many layers are a metaphor for Will’s actual emotional state, and his struggle to cope with it all. If that was the intention, it’s fair to say it misses the mark somewhat.

Even the film’s titular character doesn’t play that big a part in the grand scheme of things. He wants to talk about poetry and stuff, which seems like a missed opportunity for the animator to create a character for the sole purpose of opening up to about everything going on, things he just doesn’t feel like confiding with anyone else about, and finally give us an insight into how he’s really feeling, which sadly never comes.

An interesting approach to a difficult subject, with some cute and creative animated segments, and yet it always appears to pussy foot around and skirt around the edges, never being brave enough to ever get to the heart of the matter, which is its biggest disappointment.

we give this two out of five