Reviewed for Shockya.com & BigAppleReviews.net, linked to Rotten Tomatoes by Harvey Karten
Director: Haik Kocharian
Screenwriter: Haik Kocharian
With: Stacy Edwards, Eileen Grubba, Terra Mackintosh, Curtis Butterfield, John Hosking, Lucky
Screening on: Critics’ link, NYC, 04/09/22
Opening: September 16, 2022

When I was a kid, my favorite movie was Fred M. Wilcox’s 1943 MGM pic “Lassie Come Home,” which to me now, decades later, is the greatest dog movie ever made. The main character is sold by his destitute family and decides to leave the new owner in Scotland to return home to Yorkshire. I still use Kleenex now when I look at it.

“I’m Like You” has just one little thing in common, about a child with a physical and emotional disorder who finds him with breathing difficulties, friendless and with his one wholesome attribute that he hates school. . But parents are wary. It’s not a children’s movie. In fact, it may not be an adult film either, unless potential viewers have no problem with a film as depressing as Montana in which it is set. Written and directed by Haik Kocharian, whose “Please Be Normal” is about a struggling playwright and his soon-to-be girlfriend, “I Am Like You” hits the screen with virtually no music in the soundtrack (his best feature footage) except for a dark piano and melancholy violin.

At home with his single mother Joelle (Terra Mackintosh), Sean (Curtis Butterfield) skips school and wanders around the neighborhood, which is made up of wide open spaces, as rural as they come. His life will change, because he befriends Lucky, a wolf-dog resulting from a marriage between a domestic dog (canis fimiliaris) and a gray wolf (canis lupus). The two are inseparable, but as you can predict, the boy will lose her, at least temporarily.

During the downer, the director uses the time to play the depression card, hoping to win the kind of audience suitable for a downer. A wolfhound is caught in a trap after indulging in raw, frozen meat used as bait. Dennis (Johnathan Hyett), a local redneck, employs his dogs in fights with only his human opponent and his competition dog in the audience. He loses both games. A rancher on horseback (Merril Williams) finds Sean and Lucky and, determined to kill wolves, asks Sean if his friend is a wolf. Diana (Gwen Massey Tietz) has ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease and hires local vet Susan (Stacy Edwards) to help her kill herself. Why? She’s not paralyzed, but she can’t hold a toothbrush anymore.

The overlong image for no reason that I can see shifts the timeline back and forth, as if to further confuse the audience as to how these disparate and dark events come together. It’s only in the last few minutes that we hear a preacher in church quoting Genesis: 28 reminds me of the last lines of Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” which says “He who loves well / Man and bird and beast / He prays best to the one who loves best / All things big and small.

How wonderful this film could have been, all of it illuminating the idea from the opening book of the Hebrew Bible, that God’s gift to mankind of dominion over animals does not mean dominion. Alas: the seemingly blurry actions coupled with unnecessary time inversions make watching this film a chore despite its capable ensemble performances. Montana may be calling, but I’ll stay in New York.

128 minutes. © 2022 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

History – C-
Acting – B
Technical –B-
Overall – C+

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