Nicole Kidman stars as Grace in the 2003 experimental film Dogville. Lars Von Trier the provocative director of films such as Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark and Antichrist, delivers in Dogville, a complete departure from rules associated with film. In this film, there is one set. There are no buildings, very few props, and the “town” which we’re shown from overhead to begin the film consists of the length of a city block.
IMDB describes the movie as such: The beautiful fugitive, Grace, arrives in the isolated township of Dogville on the run from a team of gangsters. With some encouragement from Tom, the self-appointed town spokesman, the little community agrees to hide her and in return, Grace agrees to work for them. However, when a search sets in, the people of Dogville demand a better deal in exchange for the risk of harboring poor Grace and she learns the hard way that in this town, goodness is relative. But Grace has a secret and it is a dangerous one. Dogville may regret it ever began to bare its teeth…
Lars Von Trier is a film maker who I feel like I will never give a 3/5 rating on one of his films. He’s someone who pushes buttons and seeks a visceral reaction, whether it be positive or negative. This film, seems by the trailer to be the most wide reaching attempt. Instead it’s probably the most visually daring film I’ve seen in a while. While watching the trailer to this film I caught myself thinking, How have I not heard of this film? Big name actors, a director that garnered a lot of attention with the controversial film Antichrist, and praise from dozens of film critics. I put the film in eager to watch it and convinced it would be an experience that would further instill my affection for Von Trier’s films. Then the movie started. The opening shot is a bird’s eye view of this “town” and I noticed that there were no walls and this was literally a play with a limited budget. I was intrigued by the complete disregard for traditional film making and then began the 3 hour trudge through the film. For some, this might be a terrific time to examine character arcs, motivations, hopes and dreams, but Von Trier makes each and every one of the characters so unlikable that I had no interest in any of them. Grace is the centerpiece of the film but she came off as a woman with no self respect or self worth and I frankly was very bored of the film after about 45 minutes. Cut to 2 hours and 15 minutes later and the film finally ends in a way that’s again provocative and different, and at the time I was happy with the ending. However, the more I think of that ending the more I wonder what filming this story is really all about if that’s the way the story ends. It’s a film that I would actually mind revisiting at some point, but for me this time around, I really struggled through it and really had a tough time finding anything positive to say about it.
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