Written and Directed by Lars von Trier
Many critics in the United States have pilloried this movie, accusing
its creator of anti-Americanism. But such paranoid jibes completely miss
the point: although Dogville is set in Depression-era Colorado, it really
could be any place, any time. The tagline reads 'A quiet little town not
far from here', and the sparse stage set reinforces that point. The viewer's
imagination is meant to fill in the gaps, making Dogville their home town
for nearly three hours.
Dogville is a troubled place where damaged folks nurse their own private
woes. So when Grace (Nicole Kidman) arrives, seeking shelter from pursuing
gangsters, the natives are reluctant to help. With the assistance of local
'philosopher' Tom Edison (Paul Bettany), she eventually persuades the
inhabitants to relent, and they grant her a two week trial period. During
the fortnight, she manages to win the villagers over by performing good
deeds, but gradually they begin to take advantage of her kindness and
the rot sets in.
This is an extremely long film, but it is definitely worth the effort.
An allegory of staggering proportions, it deals with virtually every aspect
of humanity and some of the most fundamental questions people can face,
whilst maintaining a lightness of touch that makes the mental workout
more than bearable. If that’s not enough, Dogville is also home
to some great supporting characters, played by the likes of Lauren Bacall
and Chloë Sevigny, whilst John Hurt‘s narration is simultaneously
whimsical and profoundly moving.
So empty the tank, keep a drink in reserve, and settle down for 178 minutes
of cinematic genius.