We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
What sets this film above so many movies about animals is that it's about a dog who is realistic in every aspect. "Quill: Life of a Guide Dog" doesn't use fake closeups to show the dog being cute or funny. It doesn't dub Quill's "dialogue" or even worse, use CGI to move his jaw and show him "speaking." Quill is a dog, and that is quite enough.
The Japanese-made movie is a fictionalized story, though based on fact, about the lifespan of a yellow Labrador retriever from his puppyhood to old age. Not for a moment did it lose my interest. It answers questions I've always had about guide dogs for the blind — and why blind people trust them without hesitation.
Quill's trainer, Satoru Tawada (Kippei Shina), narrates parts of the story, and the rest is depicted in dramatic scenes. It shows that much of the training of a guide dog is based on common sense. For example, imagine a group of puppies. You call them to come to you. They all eagerly run forward, except for one. Is that the dunce of the litter? Not at all. His hesitation shows he is naturally thoughtful and cautious. He's the one with guide dog potential.
We follow Quill as he lives for a year with a trainer, learning to obey so well that when told to "stay," he will stay even in the face of temptations such as food. Obedience is combined with training in decision-making. If an owner tells a dog to lead him into traffic, the dog will think it over and decide maybe not.