Dogville

A quiet little town not far from here.

Crime Drama Thriller
178 min     7.8     2003     Denmark

Overview

A barren soundstage is stylishly utilized to create a minimalist small-town setting in which a mysterious woman named Grace hides from the criminals who pursue her. The town is two-faced and offers to harbor Grace as long as she can make it worth their effort, so Grace works hard under the employ of various townspeople to win their favor. Tensions flare, however, and Grace's status as a helpless outsider provokes vicious contempt and abuse from the citizens of Dogville.

Reviews

John Chard wrote:
Rapists and murders may be the victims according to you, but I, I call them dogs. And if they're lapping up their own vomit, the only way to stop them is with a lash. A sparse soundstage is stylishly utilized to create a minimalist small-town setting in which a mysterious woman named Grace (Nicole Kidman) hides from the criminals who pursue her. The town locals at first decide to shield Grace, and in return she openly works labour tasks for them to work off her gratitude. It's not long, however, before the residents of Dogville begin to show their true teeth... One thing is an absolute, Lars Von Trier knows how to push the buttons of critics and movie lovers alike. Dogville proved to be a case in point, a film that saw some high profile film critics renounce the director as anti American - even anti human, while others lauded the "Great Dane" as a visionary and a director of bravura panache. The point is, and it's a fact, there is no guarantee that Dogville will hit the spot of every first time viewer venturing in for the challenge. As it happens, I'm very much in the plus camp here, to me it's not only brave in style of production, but also it's narratively as caustic as anything so called "anti human" directors like Kubrick, Godard etc ever produced. The bareness of the sound stage setting, where we can see the workings of all residents of Dogville going about their respective business, very much shows there is no hiding place, all the bile strewn movements/ignorance is laid bare for all to see, we are all complicit. There's an outstanding cast assembled, fronted by Kidman (never more beautiful and never better as an actress), with support coming from Paul Bettany, Stellan Skarsgård, Lauren Bacall, Ben Gazzara, Patricia Clarkson, James Caan, Philip Baker Hall and others who give their all for their director. It's often charged that Trier is a misogynist, personally I don't see it that way, more so as Dogville reaches its crushing climax. This easily could have been shaved of 20 minutes from the run time, but it has to be said that Von Trier doesn't waste a single frame here. Roll your dice and take your chance, you will either love it or hate it, or admire or admonish, what isn't in doubt is that you will never ever forget watching Dogville. 9/10

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