How Loneliness Can Kill: A Movie Review of “A Dog’s Purpose”

So, I know this is more of a children’s movie, but my little brother asked me to watch it with him so that’s my excuse ; ) I have to say, it did spark a lot of deep reflection for me so I have to give it props for that. Truth be told, this movie sort of outraged me…I’d probably give it a generous 1 out of 5… and here’s why:

The main take away of this movie is that loneliness is the worst thing that can happen to you. Basically, the dog’s entire life “purpose” is to find companions for it’s owners across various lifetimes, so that they aren’t alone anymore. Of course almost all of these companions are love interests because the friendship of the dog isn’t enough. Once a suitable partner is found, the dog dies…over and over again…it’s like the ending scene from “Marley and Me” that can make even the toughest person cry…but repeat that emotional roller coaster over 7 times…I know you really want to see this movie now.

Now, loneliness and love is a common theme in many films, but what really got to me this time was all of the repetition, how strongly they drove home the message: YOUR LIFE IS INCOMPLETE AND SAD WITHOUT ANOTHER PERSON. My apologies dear puppy, but I DISAGREE.

Loneliness is a natural part of life. We all find ourselves alone sometimes in life, and in the developing world this is how we spend most of our day. In fact, time spent alone can even be very relaxing and healing for some people (also: let’s please stop shaming these people with the title of “introvert” which implies for some reason that they lack social drive…not true!). This is a hard thing to remember when we are forever scrolling through feeds of pictures of other people with their friends feeling like we are the only person in the world that is alone right now…meanwhile the person in that picture you envy is probably just sitting on their phone right now doing the exact same thing as you…

I remember we talked about this issue in my grade 12 French class. We were discussing what my teacher called the “Disney Effect“, which alludes to the fact that growing up with fairy tales and love stories has deluded our expectations for happiness in our lives. She asked every person in the class to raise their hand if they FULLY believed that they would never be 100% happy and satisfied with their lives unless they met “the one, their soul mate”…and watching the wave, no, the SEA of hands that rose is the kind of sight that really gets to you.

Whatever happened to the saying, “You have to be happy with yourself first?”. If in the odd chance love doesn’t happen for you in this life, why is it unacceptable that having a successful career/anything else that makes you happy other than a love life can be enough for somebody? I think of Jennifer Aniston in that movie “The Switch”, why did they have to end it with her finding a guy? I was perfectly inspired by her taking the reins and doing something to make herself happy INDEPENDENTLY…and then the movie just changed it’s mind and said “see, she tried to be happy with her own self, but remember that you alone are never enough”.

And THIS is how loneliness can kill you, my friends. It’s our interpretation of loneliness, that gives it so much power. And indeed in so many sad circumstances loneliness has killed. It’s the fault of our society/the media for teaching us that loneliness, something we all experience and is completely normal, is instead something we should feel badly about and that signals to us that we are undesirable people to others. If you’re alone and you have the choice between two interpretations: “wow, I have this moment to myself which is actually great for my personal development” or “I’m alone because nobody wants me and I hate myself for it”, be honest with me, which one do you usually think?

Again, it’s not your fault. We have been conditioned to think this way.

Why? Because our pain propels capitalism. What product wouldn’t you buy to be more desirable, and make sure you don’t end up alone?

Anyways…I’m not saying love isn’t incredible and a great experience, but I do want to say that (despite what movies like this one would have you believe) it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have it right now. The second problem is that we often determined “loneliness” based on our love life: if you don’t have a significant other, you’re ALONE…but what of the many family members/friends/kind strangers on the street that are indeed filling and completing your life? How about all those 7.4 billion other living creatures (that’s not even counting animals and plants…)?

I would love to see ONE SINGLE MOVIE made where the protagonist dies peacefully at the end of a very fulfilling life, alone, and HAPPY. Because the reality is, this happens to some people, and their life is in no way less meaningful or valuable because of it.

So stay strong : ) Love, the old movie reel cozied up in that box

Side Note:

OMNIVERT, definition: A word invented to replace introvert/extrovert that everyone seems to relate to, which makes sense because all humans are equally social and solitary creatures…screw labels and the stereotypes that come with them please and thank you < 3

 

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