A Dog Called Money
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…a conscientious and raw documentary that verges on visual album.
Two-time Mercury Award-winning musician PJ Harvey is an artist less interested in producing hard-bodied rock’n’roll anthems than she is addressing the plight of those living without privilege.
To draw parallels in Harvey’s career with Bob Dylan would misinterpret her bold lyricism as being songs of protest – a notion that Harvey would sooner shake off than she would rest on her shoulders like a guitar strap.
A Dog Called Money documents Harvey as an artist now, and follows her journey ‘collecting lyrics’ for her 2016 album The Hope Six Demolition Project.
The journey, which takes her to the streets of Afghanistan and Washington DC, highlights a political discourse through its documentation of the negative impact western influence – mainly American – has on the quality of life of people throughout the world.
It is here where director Seamus Murphy harmoniously intertwines footage of Harvey’s experiences on the streets with her work in the recording studio; allowing Harvey to demonstrate her musical virtuoso by translating the mood of the people into lyrics and sound.
Witnessing Harvey as an artist at work is spellbinding. Pundits in the film, fortunate enough to watch Harvey create music, are left captivated as she intricately weaves profound lyrics with beautiful tones that are delicately ethereal yet brutally haunting.
There is a fine line trodden in A Dog Called Money’s exploitation of misfortune, with Harvey being the first to acknowledge her own privilege standing in expensive sandals in a house recently occupied by people who had to flee. Murphy is effective in his ability to establish Harvey’s intentions as not being commercially motivated, allowing the musician’s unassuming demeanour to carry through in front of the lens and not present her actions as something colonial.
Capturing the humanity of people living in war-torn and impoverished areas, A Dog Called Money is a conscientious and raw documentary that verges on visual album.