Directed by Simon Curtis, The Art of Racing in the Rain is based on the best-selling 2008 novel of the same title by Garth Stein.
Heart-tugging story about a faithful dog
Leah C. Salterio (The Philippine Star) - August 19, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — In Mongolia, it is believed that when a dog dies, he comes back to life as a human being. That was reiterated in the recent page-turner translated into big screen material, The Art of Racing in the Rain.

The title is definitely apt to the story, since the protagonist is a brave race car driver, Denny Swift, who can defy the odds to maneuver and steer his wheels even when it’s pouring. Yes, apparently, there’s an art of racing even when the roads are slippery.

Yet, intertwined with that art is the heart-tugging story about how a faithful canine holds a family together even in the midst of tumultuous problems, including death.

Sure, we fondly remember heart-tugging dog movies like Beethoven, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale or Marley and Me. The Art of Racing in the Rain is a story about car racing, but interestingly, the dog is the narrator in the story, voiced over by Kevin Costner.

Told in flashback from the point of view of a wise, golden retriever, the story was said to hew closely to the life of its author. There are very few, actual racing sequences in the film. The story focused on Denny’s relationships with the humans around him and his dog, obviously his prized possession.

Directed by Simon Curtis, The Art of Racing in the Rain is based on the best-selling 2008 novel of the same title by Garth Stein, himself a race car driver before he churned out page-turners.

Ruggedly handsome Milo Ventimiglia essayed aspiring Formula One race car driver Denny Swift, who adopted a puppy as his companion. No wonder, the dog was named Enzo, after Italian car founder and luminary, Enzo Ferrari. So in no time, the dog not only became Denny’s housemate and constant companion, but also a race car aficionado, too.

Denny met, fell in love and married Eve (Amanda Seyfried), the love of his life. “You don’t mind if I love him, too?,” Eve secretly asked the dog  Enzo after she married Denny. She was an only child of a wealthy couple (Martin Donovan and Kathy Baker played Eve’s parents), whom Denny secretly called “twins.”

However, tragedy struck and Denny suddenly had to get into an ugly custody battle against his in-laws for his own daughter.

A weepie not just for pet lovers, but for the whole family, as well, The Art of Racing in the Rain doesn’t clearly sell its story as a sports tale. If at all, the film is a good cry as a family drama and a man’s relationship with his pet.

As the trailer of the film bragged, “Meet the dog who will show the world how it is to be human.”

It will not be surprising if one probably forgets about Amanda Seyfried’s role as Denny’s wife in the movie. But the bond between Enzo and Denny from beginning to end is undoubtedly hard to ignore.

The time line of the story goes through ten years after Denny’s wife died. He was shown as a successful and popular race car driver in Italy, where he lived with his 18-year-old daughter. And one fine day, guess who came up to him to asked for his autograph? A young boy named Enzo (accompanied by his dad), who apparently idolizes Denny. Now, talk about reincarnation.

The sentimental, country rock ditty, Have You Ever Seen the Rain, played as the closing credits rolled. Very apt, too, indeed.

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