Monday, August 19, 2013

Indie Review: Dogville (2003)

                             Welcome to 'Dogville': Where The Dark Side Of Humanity Lurks

               There is a scene in the film where one character says how there are creeps in the city, but people that live in towns outside the city tend not to be any different, and that is certainly the point Dogville gets across as it expresses the ugly side of small-town America.

               Dogville is about a woman named Grace Mulligan (Nicole Kidman) who is on the run from the mob and ends up in a small town in the Rockies called Dogville, where the people are nice enough to let her stay, only if they do chores for her return. But her stay slowly starts to take a toll on the townspeople, who may not be as wholesome and humble as they believe they are.

                What I Liked About It:
               Now, the entire film was filmed in a sound stage and had scattered set pieces (walls, furniture, park bench, etc.) and I thought that was a very interesting technique. It feels as if it is a play caught on film, and I applaud director Lars Von Trier for making this interesting move as I don't think many directors have pulled this off. I also liked how despite its 3-hour running time, the film never drags and I wasn't bored at any point in the film.

               Another thing that I liked was the acting. Nicole Kidman does fine work as Grace, the mysterious woman who is very submissive and vulnerable, and because her name is Grace, she tends to be very forgiving. The film also stars some of the finest character actors in the business, including Paul Bettany, Stellan Skarsgard, Jeremy Davies, Chloe Sevigny, and Patricia Clarkson, who portray the townspeople and all do an outstanding job.

               Now, when this movie was released, a lot of critics clamed that it was Anti-American, which I disagree with. In my opinion, it's not necessarily meant to portray a negative portrait of America, but rather to show that we are just as problematic as any other country. The complicated characters that live in Dogville who slowly begin to lose their morals could exist in any country at any small town. Although in the beginning of the film where Grace arrives in Dogville for the first time and the townspeople are reluctant to accept her, it almost represents how some of us tend to be xenophobic or for those of us who do live in small, tight-knit communities, weary of outsiders. But to me, that doesn't mean Lars Von Trier is trying to paint a malicious portrait of a country he never visited.

                What I Didn't Like About It:

               Overall, Dogville is a smoothly-paced yet intense and chilling portrait of the ugly side of small-town America. It's definitely not a film for everyone nor is it fun, but it is very deep and some may even feel uncomfortable watching it. Not a film I would recommend to everyone, but I would recommend it to people who like to watch films and analyze their themes and symbolism and such.

Rating: 4.5/5