Rica Sweeney‘s first short film, Bone is the quirky tale of a dog’s adventure into a life of crime and abuse at the hands of a mob boss, all narrated by the dog herself. It’s a bright, breezy film that just about manages to avoid feeling too mannered but is still a little disjointed.
Sweeney gives the film a distinct look and vivid colour palette that recalls the Paddington films, and she does a great job of keeping the look consistent. It feels like a living cartoon in places, and verges on being a little too cutesy, but Sweeney uses this seemingly child friendly tone to tell a quite dark story, as it emerges the dog is to be unwittingly used in a drug dealing operation.
It’s a nice idea, and the assured direction sells it, although the tonal shift doesn’t completely work. It never gets dark enough to contrast properly with the quirky style, but enough to be tonally jarring. The whole film could do with a bit more depth and more room to breathe.
Technically though, this is a really well-made film, with nice camera work and coherent, clear storytelling, and there is a macabre sense of humour running through it that works well in places, but the darker moments are less convincing, and there isn’t much of a story to it, while the ending is abrupt and rushed and really comes out of nowhere.
Bone has its own unique charm, but ultimately the whimsical tone doesn’t quite gel with the more sinister moments. The director has a colourful visual style that’s stamped all over the film though, and who doesn’t love a cute dog as a protagonist?