Dogville (15)

Written and Directed by Lars von Trier
Picturehouse, FACT

Review by Adam Ford

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.