Monday, July 30, 2007

Dogville (Von Trier, 2003)


Wow. Just wow. I'm too stunned to offer any kind of coherent thoughts right now other than it was a mightly blow to the gut and a fascinating piece of cinema unlike anything I have ever seen before. How's this for starters. The entire film takes place on a giant sound-stage with crude props (ex: the various houses are one dimensional in structure like you would find in a stage theatre production, trees, plants and even the dog are outlined in chalk) representing a small town in the middle of no where. The vulnerability of the setting makes the story much more raw and intimate. These are simple folk living peacefully in harmony but when a beautiful stranger wanders into their isolated quiet community there is a ripple effect of consequences that threaten to disrupt the established stability and unravel the ugly truth of humanity. Trier's unflinching assault on the so-called "American dream" is bitter and will no doubt upset many viewers who many not agree with the nihilistic approach.

I'm having difficulty deciphering Lars Von Trier's intentions since Dogville is open to a vast array of interpretations. Personally, it is most effective as a moral case-study in identity and broken promises. There is much to be admired in Trier's unique aesthetic as well as story-telling abilities. John Hurt's impeccable narration aids in driving the narritive forward at a brisk pace, offering witty insight and observation of the town and its people. Despite being 3-hours long, the film is surprisingly entertaining not just from a technical standpoint either. The actual story itself is engrossing by posing a host of complex moral dilemmas and ideals that are interesting to think about. There are also the terrific performances by the entire cast with Nicole Kidman stealing the spot-light as Trier's heroine who is nothing short of extroardinary. A challenging, disturbing and unforgettable film with a shocker of an ending that is bound to raise a few eye-brows.

[****]

6 comments:

Krissie said...

I couldn't agree more. It is one of the best and most deeply disturbing movies I have ever seen. And I've been gathering courage to see it again but...

Jason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason said...

Thanks for commenting Krissie! I don't think I'll be re-watching this film anytime soon either. Once is enough for me! At least for a little while anyways. It has been permanently wedged into my subconscious and I can't seem to stop thinking about it.

I forgot to mention the jaw-dropping climax in my review which forces you to reconsider everything leading up to that specific moment. Brilliant stuff. Have you seen Manderlay by any chance?

Krissie said...

No, I'm afraid I haven't.
Risking to sound incredibly dumb, I'll ask: any connection to Rebecca?

Jason said...

hehe nope. Manderlay is the second film of Trier's American trilogy with Dogville being the first. I haven't seen it yet myself which is why I asked. Apparently Bryce Dallas Howard is in the Grace role this time.

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