Dean Spanley review

Sam Neill in a shagg-pup fable?

Of all the plaudits Sam Neill has received in his career, “Good doggy” doesn’t figure highly. Toa Fraser’s quietly endearing shaggy-pup fable rectifies that, albeit veeery slooowly.

Neill gives good, garrulous mutt as an Edwardian Dean who, under the influence of a rare tipple, regresses to a previous canine existence.

Framing this is the tale of a cantankerous old bugger (Peter O’Toole) who has buried painful feelings of grief bonedeep. A redemptive arc leashes
the threads together, hinged on insights into familial repression that are a tad too costumedrama-stifled for their own good.

But Neill’s deadpan dog-ologues prove ticklesome, on the way to an unexpectedly touching conclusion.

Kevin Harley

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