The reclusive Dogstar functions with an undiagnosed case of autism. After falling in love with a sweet girl named Gabrielle, who herself is wrestling with an addiction, Dogstar must set upon a brave quest beyond the confines of his own room to find her.
The brightest star visible from any place on Earth is called Sirius which resides in the constellation Canis Major the Greater Dog. Sirius is well known as the Dog Star and, although it’s usually white to blue in colour, it is sometimes also called a rainbow star because it often flickers with many different colours. Knowing this piece of astronomy trivia is not essential while watching Dogstar but it does help to inform and enlighten the experience.
Dogstar, played by the actor Jon Jacobs, is a very intriguing title character. We first meet him as a child listening intently to his hippy, astronomer father who is telling him all about the stars and the galaxies far, far away. Then we cut to 20 years later and a grown-up Dogstar, who now has difficulties of his own and is dealing with them the only way he knows how, by not going anywhere.
He has a form of autism and Asperger’s, which means he sees everything a little differently. As an adult, he has become part-astronomer, part-mystic, and part-simpleton. This is the first connection you make with the actual Dogstar. The character, much like the star itself, is always the brightest in the room; people only think he is capable of 1 or 2 layers but if you look harder and deeper into his being you can see, much like the star, he is many layers deep.
Jacobs’ performance is extremely memorable, the characterisation he creates is an eclectic mixture. On one side you have the spiritualism of Patrick Swayze’s Bodhi in Point Break, on the other, you get the ticks and voices of Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura Pet Detective, while overall you have the simple-minded optimism of Tom Hanks’ Forrest Gump.
Dogstar still lives at home with his dysfunctional family, including his mum and sponger brother Astro (played by an enjoyably wooden Gabriel Jewell), and never ventures outside. However, when he meets Gabrielle (a very lovely J. C. Brandy who you may remember from Halloween 6), they make an immediate connection, and he quickly falls in love with her. A friendship blossoms between the two and, in what leads to one of the film’s best and most heartbreaking scenes, Dogstar fights his phobias, goes out with her, and eventually plucks up the courage to buy her a gift.
Dogstar was made in 1997, almost 25 years ago and was available on DVD for a while in the early 2000’s. It has just become available on streaming platforms. The first thing you notice about Dia Pergum’s film is that the colour scheme is much like the Dogstar itself. There are lots of blues and whites on show, particularly in Dogstar’s room. The framing is typical ‘indy’ with close-ups, two shots and establishing shots filmed at different angles. The editing is brisk although some of the cuts to black from one scene to another gave the impression of a made for TV movie. The soundtrack again is very 90’s, with a number of jangly, guitar-based pop songs scattered across the 80-minute runtime.
Overall Dogstar is an enjoyable throwback to a time when everyone wanted to follow Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, and Robert Rodriguez from the video shop to the Hollywood red carpet by making their own independent movie. Catch it on Amazon Prime and other streaming platforms.