Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: A Dog Called Money

Polly Jean Harvey, aka PJ Harvey, is something of a British musical institution. Depending on how you look at it, the Dorsetonian has released almost fifteen albums and continues to be one of the most interesting politicalised artists. She is a musician who has always been open to, and regularly sought out, collaborators. A singer-songwriter, poet and composer who has actively searched out and opened herself up to a whole range of influences.

On her ninth studio album, The Hope Six Demolition Project, she teamed up with award-winning photographer Seamus Murphy. This collaboration was two-fold. Firstly, she accompanied him on visits to Afghanistan, Washington DC and Kosovo; whilst Murphy filmed the singer as she gathered inspiration. On their return, Harvey recorded the new album at Somerset House in a glass box over the course of a month. The public were invited to observe this process. A Dog Called Money documents this process.

First and foremost, A Dog Called Money is beautifully filmed. The streets of these three countries are captured in starting hues and sumptuous pastels. Murphy uncovers some fascinating insights into both Harvey’s mindset, the way she works and her song creation process. However, at times it feels a little gimmicky and raises a few questions about privilege and cultural appropriation. That said, it’s an interesting experiment which doesn’t quite work.

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