Directed by Steven Ritt
Starring Igby, Joe Silva
Short Film Review by George Nash
Unleashed Love follows the life of a well-loved but lonely Pit bull who discovers companionship in the shape of a small, rescued puppy named Gracie. When life deals a harsh blow, however, will such a happy, spiritual connection ever be formed again?
Excuse the canine related pun, but Unleashed Love starts out in the most misleading fashion imaginable. In the book of cinematic algebra, a philosophical Einstein quote followed by a night-time opening shot of a full moon with a deep voiceover uttering the phrase “When the darkness enters into my life, and lingers, I feel separated from everything”, doesn’t equal a film about dogs. Except, apparently, according to writer and director Steven Ritt, it most certainly does. Despite enigmatic beginnings, Unleashed Love (A Dog’s Tale) – to give it its full, punny, more self-explanatory title – turns out to be a rather simple tale of love and loss, but with an extra pair of legs and much, much more hair.
Posted to TheAnimalNetwork.TV, it comes as no surprise that this is a work made by, and designed to resonate with, hardcore animal lovers everywhere. Ritt is evidently a huge doggy man, whose short film is threaded together by an underlying belief that every dog deserves a place in both our homes and hearts. In essence, this is a 12-minute home-video cum dog montage set to music (you probably shouldn’t Google that), following the highs and lows of Igby the Pit bull as he deals with the uplifting power of companionship, and the devastating weight of grief.
Yes, the premise might sound a tad far fetched, and for the most part it appears as though this is all being played for laughs. The level of cheese reaches Himalayan heights, and the chimes of parody sounding a little unintentionally throughout give it the same warm, fuzzy, tongue-in-cheek feel of a Pug meme. Yet, somewhere amidst the high-school teen drama shots of Igby staring intently at an open fire or gravestone, and mash-up soundtrack of country twangs, slow piano and snazzy pop numbers, there is a meaningful sincerity to it.
It may lack the narrative intricacy and careful, stylish finesse of a larger budget short film, and may not hit its intended emotional pitch, but Unleashed Love (A Dog’s Tale) does exactly what it says on the tin, eventually. Ritt, on this showing, isn’t likely to turn many heads, but the film evidently derives from his own unleashed love; and, really, that’s where all filmmaking should originate from.