Sunday, 3 November 2013

Dogville

Dogville; drama, Denmark/ USA/ UK/ France, 2003; D: Lars von Trier, S: Nicole Kidman, Paul Bettany, Blair Brown, Željko Ivanek, Lauren Bacall, Chloe Sevigny, Udo Kier, Ben Gazzara, Philip Baker Hall, James Caan

City of Dogville, early 20th century. Running away from gangsters, Grace arrives to the city. Tom persuades the poor inhabitants to help her find refuge. However, in return for her sanctuary, Grace is soon forced to do more and more chores for them, all the men rape her and she is even tied to a chain so that she will not escape. The gangsters finally arrive at Dogville and it turns out Grace is actually the daughter of the mafia boss. As revenge, the mobsters kill every inhabitant and raze Dogville to the ground.

Inspired by the Bertolt Brecht's drama "Die Ballade von Seerauber Jenny", "Dogville" is a weird 3-hour movie in which the seemingly kind inhabitants soon transform into selfish-arrogant psychos whereas the seemingly evil gangsters in the end turn out to be the good guys. Director Lars von Trier directs the film again in the Dogme 95 style, but signs of madness of his vision do start to become apparent, which will culminate in his later films. The innovation, though, is the set-design looking like a cheap stage: everything is drawn with a chalk. Houses do not exist but are just illustrated in 2-D squares that have the words "Tom's house", "Ben's house", etc. written on them. Thus, even when the actors leave the house on the street, they pretend to open "invisible" doors. There are no background, either: during day, exteriors are in white, and during night in black color. This gives "Dogville" a fascinating feature of a stylistic experiment and an additional layer over the already slightly worn out Dogme 95 hand-held camera look, and the story is interesting, showing once again von Trier's portrait of the bottom of human moral, yet he turns out to be, unfortunately, much more colder and cynical than in his previous films. Nicole Kidman is great as the mysterious Grace who "buys" her stay in Dogville by performing various kinds of chores for the inhabitants, though some moments do turn out excessive (every man rapes her; she is even chained as to not escape). The movie is uneven, with a lack of measure and sophistication, and von Trier's decisions are once again questionable, yet he is able to create a strong and raw allegory of revenge.

Grade;+++

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