A woman (Verónica Llinás) lives in a self-built, ramshackle hut with her eight or so dogs. Apart from the dogs, she’s on her own, spending her days scavenging and hunting for food and mostly avoids human contact.
La mujer de los perros doesn’t really have a plot. Instead you watch a part of the routine of the woman (who remains nameless, if I’m not mistaken). While this could have been a recipe for utter boredom, somehow the film has a rhythm that draws you in and Verónica Llinás has a presence that keeps you hooked. The cute dogs are a bonus.
We don’t know much about the woman and it remains that way throughout the film. We don’t know how she ended up living on her own like that, why she decides to amass dogs, who she was before she became the Dog Lady. She visits a friend (or maybe relative) once, but other than that seems to have no social interactions that aren’t entirely at random.
But I think part of what makes the film so interesting to watch regardless of that is that she seems completely within herself. She’s who she wants to be. Sometimes that’s really not easy and every once in a while she might miss some amenities of city life, but in the end she seems completely happy in her almost total self-dependence. She’s complacent, but her complacency isn’t idle.
With that approach, the script goes basically against everything that you’d learn in a script writing course, and it works beautifully, achieving an almost hypnotic quality. I wouldn’t have minded watching the film longer.
My only point of contention is the music. It was just too strong, too emotional, too manipulative, too dramatic for this calm, peaceful, if not to say serene film. But fortunately, it’s sparingly used and doesn’t really keep the film from unfolding its potential.