Wes Anderson has never been noted for his careful handling of other cultures: his 2007 feature The Darjeeling Limited faced criticisms of appropriation in its treatment of India, and his latest, Isle of Dogs, hasn't proven any different.
The stop-motion animation sees the director choose a futuristic imagining of Japan as its setting, complete with a fictionalised city named Megasaki, as its population of dogs are banished to Trash Island over fears of disease epidemic.
Though it purports to be a criticism of bigotry and scapegoating, there's been a growing conversation, largely initiated by Asian-American critics, about its use of Japanese culture as an aesthetic backdrop.
One of the most important pieces of writing on the subject comes from The LA Times' Justin Chang, a mixed review which praises the film's sense of innovation, but takes issue with the film's use of language.
In Isle of Dogs, the human residents of Megasaki speak their native Japanese, but the lack of subtitles others them. "Much of the Japanese dialogue, especially Atari's, has been pared down to simple statements that non-speakers can figure out based on context and facial expressions; longer, more complicated exchanges are translated aloud by a handy on-screen English interpreter (Frances McDormand)," Chang writes.
The dogs, meanwhile, speak American English, as he adds: " all these coy linguistic layers amount to their own form of marginalization, effectively reducing the hapless, unsuspecting people of Megasaki to foreigners in their own city." Neither is this helped by the fact the leader of the pro-dog movement is an American foreign exchange student (Greta Gerwig).
Mashable's Angie Han agreed with Chang's criticisms, adding: "The problem is that Isle of Dogs falls into a long history of American art othering or dehumanizing Asians, borrowing their 'exotic' cultures and settings while disregarding the people who created those cultures and live in those settings."
"She went further in arguing that Anderson's enthusiastic use of broad Japanese references (Akira Kurosawa, wasabi, cherry blossoms, and haikus all feature), are frustrating in their lack of meaning or impact on the story. If there's some reason Isle of Dogs had to be set in Japan, if there's something specifically Japanese about the story Anderson is trying to tell or the message it's trying to send, I don't know what it is," she writes.
Many have since voiced their agreement on Twitter, with the pieces (and others similar) sparking a necessary conversation both about how we view the depictions of other cultures in film, and the importance of diversity in film criticism to help guide those conversations.
Isle of Dogs hits UK cinemas 30 March.
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