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Review: Buddy

June 21, 2019

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

The Dutch filmmaker Heddy Honigmann looks at the bond between six people and their service dogs in her latest documentary Buddy.

The subjects here include an elderly German lady who was blinded by an explosion in World War II and has had many service dogs over the years; and a younger war veteran with PTSD whose dog is credited with helping him maintain a relationship with his wife and kids.

Among others, there’s also an autistic boy who is helped in all aspects of his life by his beloved canine companion; and an older women who is partially paralyzed and uses a wheelchair, with her dog helping her with everything from opening door handles to pulling up the covers in bed and even retrieving pieces of paper from the printer.

There are some interesting and touching moments here, but the film ultimately focuses on a few too many different subjects and doesn’t really allow us to get to know any of them in a deeper way. Without a strong enough narrative structure to tie them all together, Buddy ends up feeling more like a collection of vignettes instead of a cohesive whole. It’s fine, and I imagine many viewers will take something away from it, but I wanted more.

Buddy is now playing in limited release at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto, tickets and showtimes can be found right here.

A version of this review was originally published during the 2019 Hot Docs Film Festival.

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