Review: Dogville

Filed under: Reviews

Lars Von Trier's last film, Dancer in the Dark, starring Bjork and Catherine Deneuve was THE film studies movie of the year. I'll bet there wasn't a film program in the world that didn't show this film in at least one class. Will Dogville live up to this? Well, in my first class EVER at Carleton University, I was talking about it with a fellow classmate. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Nicole Kidman plays a woman on the run that finds refuge of sort, in an "average" American town known as Dogville. Although she appears to have secrets to keep from the law, the townsfolk take a liking to her, and promise to keep her secret safe " so long as she works for it. Soon Kate is doing small chores for everyone, which adds up to exhausting work. As the jobs get harder, the townsfolk get less forgiving and begin taking advantage of her.

Once Kate has suffered all the abuse she can, she tries to escape. However, it does not work, and her life becomes even more hellish, enduring rape from every male of the community, except for Tom (Paul Bettany), who is actually the person that invited her into the town.

The film is slow-moving, methodical, and long. It might be a little bit too long, but the ending is equally shocking and expected, and it is definitely worth staying in your seat for. How can something be shocking and expected?

Well, think of horror films. A girl is creeping down a dark hallway. You know something is going to jump out at her, but it still surprises you when it happens. The ending is not really like this, but it's the best way I can describe it stylistically without ruining it.

What makes this movie special is not the plot, but the style. The town of Dogville is traced out in what appears to be chalk on the ground. There are real props, but no buildings, just squares drawn that say "Joe and Judy's" and stuff like that. With no buildings, there are no doors, but every time a person mimes opening a door, a sound effect accompanies it, and I can just imagine film classes everywhere discussing the significance of this. It really feels more like you are watching a play than a film, and Mr. Von Trier probably totally knows this, melding two media to make an intriguing work of art.

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