Remembrance of Things Past

Laurie Anderson makes her feature film debut.

Heart of a dog

Heart of a Dog, the New York artist and musician Laurie Anderson’s debut feature film (in theaters October 21), is at first glance a loving ode to her rat terrier, Lolabelle (the two are seen in a still from the film, below), who died four years ago. It starts with a dog’s-eye view of their daily walk (greeting West Village neighbors, like the artist Julian Schnabel), music recitals (Lolabelle played piano), and studio time (she also paw-painted), but the movie eventually goes wide. Anderson explores her state of mind after September 11, critiques America’s surveillance state, and delves into memories of loss— though she doesn’t mention her late husband, Lou Reed, by name. The filmmaking is a little haphazard, but its homemade quality, with occasional childlike animations and Anderson’s deadpan voice-over, has the intimacy and emotional pull of a confession.