Mellow Nello
The dog in A Dog of Flanders isn't really the scruffy black Bouvier, but the motherless boy Nello (Jeremy James Kissner), raised by his poor, ailing grandfather. Delivering milk to his neighbors with a cart pulled by the abused mutt he rescued, nursed back to health and renamed Patrasche, Nello struggles innocently, selflessly. He is at the mercy of the business, religious and art institutions in 19th-century Belgium. This waif, who desires to be a painter?like his late mother and her hero the great Peter Paul Rubens?has little access to fulfilling his dreams. His society, thus depicted, seems very much like our own. I make this emphasis to clarify A Dog of Flanders' emotional acuity. What might easily be dismissed for a mawkish children's movie is actually something special?a portrait of the human as a young artist.