To Dance With the White Dog (2002)

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Former Shohei Imamura and Takeshi Kitaro assistant Takashi Tsukinoki makes his own feature-film directorial debut with To Dance With the White Dog, the story of an elderly Japanese man's struggle to cope with the loss of his wife of 40 years. After a seemingly normal day of work, a venerable tree surgeon (Japanese film icon Tatsuya Nakadai) returns home to find his wife Mitsue (Shiho Fujimura) lying in a heap in their garden. She briefly regains consciousness at the hospital, only to make a significant, yet unrecognizable, hand gesture to her husband before dying. As the man descends into his mourning, he begins to act in bizarre ways -- including communicating with a seemingly non-existent white dog -- that worry his daughter Emi (Mayumi Wakamura), who offers to move in with her father in order to watch over him. As the man works through his grief, he begins to understand what his wife's dying message meant, aided by his new best friend. To Dance With the White Dog was an official selection to the 2002 Montreal World Film Festival.