Life with Dog
“My wife had faith; I had doubt — you’d be surprised how well those two work together!” That’s been Joe Bigler’s “life operating manual” until his wife died in a mysterious bicycle accident. Now without her faith to help him mourn, and his doubt driving toward a mystery surrounding her death, Joe is left with more questions than he can handle and quickly finds himself spiraling into a dark abyss — uncertain of all things. His rescue comes in the form of a dog who wanders into his rose garden and refuses to leave. “Dog,” as Joe unaffectionately refers to him, never utters a single bark but engages Joe in silent conversation, and together they form an unexpected bond. And with that bond comes a new understanding of love, mercy, and compassion along with the beginnings of a personalized faith that helps Joe not only begin to grieve and heal but also discover the answers to the unsolved mystery surrounding his wife’s accident … and ultimately an ability to forgive at the highest level.
When faith meets doubt, anything is possible, and that certainly is the theme of this powerful and dramatic movie! Corbin Bernsen gives a stirring performance as Joe, a man that is trying to make sense of his life after his wife Alice (Marilu Henner) is killed by a hit-and-run driver as she rode her bike. We later learn there was a twist to the accident that took her life. Joe’s daughter, Zoe (Chelsey Crisp), is, like her mother was, a Christian, and her faith doesn’t sit well with Joe. This isn’t the first family tragedy that Joe and Chelsey have had to endure; Joe had lost his son some years before—after turning to God in prayer to spare his life. Joe has never been able to understand why Zoe and Alice held to their faith when there was no making sense of the tragic events of their lives.
Joe lives alone in bitterness and talks to Alice—who he believes replies to him. A new building development is going up near Joe’s home, and he has refused to sell his house. He believes someone associated with the developers took his wife “out” so he would sell his house. When a dog comes along that doesn’t bark and takes a liking to him, Joe takes him in until he can find out where he came from. This movie does a terrific job of removing one layer of the storyline at a time. Just when you think you understand the story, another layer is revealed which adds more drama and depth. And the dog, whom Joe names “Dog,” is always there with him, listening to him and watching him when he has outbursts of anger.
The ultimate dramatic moment takes place when Joe learns the exact details surrounding his wife’s death, and he is confronted with the very thing that would please his wife the most—the choice of forgiveness. Joe mentioned he used to drop the “F-bomb,” but the word is not actually used in the movie. The content consists mainly of Joe losing his temper and making a few bad decisions, such as pulling a gun on a man. But it is not gratuitous, and the film easily earns our Dove Seal for Ages 12+. The movie contains solid acting, a suspenseful plot, and features a topic most people can relate to—pain and suffering.
The Dove Take
How do we find God when we need him the most? The influence of God’s word and the impact of believers in our lives are two important factors that are not to be overlooked, and this movie passionately makes those points!