By Vernon Nickerson
Murmur, a film written and directed by Heather Young, making its debut at the 2020 Slamdance Film Festival, takes an intimate look at the intersections between 1. a lonely and heartsick mother who longs to love and be loved in return, 2. the substances the mother has used to numb her pain, 3. a lonely and heartsick dog who desperately wants tender loving care, 4. the day-to-day heroes and heroines- the veterinary doctors and nurses who keep our beloved pets alive, and 5. the doctors, physical therapists and medical professionals who help us maintain human health.
For all of you friends-of-pets: No animals were harmed in the making of this film, however, as a group of actors portraying animals being abused, they deliver a perfect set of performances. Kudos for Ms. Young’s screenplay for an unusually revealing look at the medical and dental procedures that maintain the health of our pets. Murmur is for animal lovers- people who share themselves with animals and to whom animals give unconditional love and acceptance in return.
Ms. Young does an excellent job of presenting an in-depth look at these complicated intersections- a look that is grounded in the day-to-day reality of human and animal healthcare. Murmur’s triumph, however, is depicting how slowly yet steadily a drug-fueled fantasy, even with the best of intentions, can become a tragedy. Murmur becomes a 21st-century cautionary tale of our triumphant/tragic, i.e., hi-tech/low touch society best summed up by Shakespeare’s triumphant and tragic lyrics spoken by Richard III in the throes of his own tragic fantasy:
“Now is the winter of our discontent;
Made glorious summer by this son of York;
And all the clouds that low’r’d upon our house;
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.”
(from Richard III, Act 1, Scene 1)