A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog is a Japanese movie that will appeal to all ages, as long as reading subtitles isn't a problem. Though the film follows the format of a documentary, it's a scripted drama about a grumpy older man and his selfless guide dog learning to work together. There's no swearing or smoking, and only a few scenes where adults relax with beer. Also, the puppies are unbearably cute.
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What's the story?
Quill, a dedicated Labrador, is the one puppy in his litter who doesn't immediately come when he's called, a potential sign of introspection and patience that may mean he's got the right stuff to be a guide dog for the blind. Soon he's sent to a school where he's trained to lead a sightless person; later, he's assigned to Watanabe, a surly journalist who's more than a handful for the people around him. Eventually, dog and master become a tightly bonded unit, changing both of them for the better.
Is it any good?
QUILL: THE LIFE OF A GUIDE DOG appears to be a documentary, so carefully does it document the entire dog-training process. But this Japanese film is actually a charming drama about the relationship between a canine and his master and how their interaction can transform them both. It could have all been played for kitsch, but thankfully, there are no human voiceovers explaining Quill's inner thoughts, nor are there any cutesy techniques to personify him.
Instead, Quill allows the dog to do what dogs do: He sits when he's told to sit and waits when he's told to wait, and, most importantly, he carefully leads Watanabe safely through town And you still gets to know the main characters, especially the canine headliner. Such a gem he is! He cares about his master more than anything else in the world. This is a film that shows what it takes to connect with another being, and it's told in such an elegantly simple way.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the relationship between Quill and his master. How does it differ from a standard pet-owner relationship? What qualities make Quill a good guide dog?
How is Quill different from other movies that focus on animals? Did you get a sense of what Quill is thinking and feeling even though there's no voiceover or other device that serves as the dog's inner dialogue?
How does the blind Watanabe cope with his disability? How does the film portray his life? Does the film contradict any stereotypes about people with disabilities?
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