Quo Vadimus

Sunday, May 25, 2003


DOGVILLE (Lars von Trier)

"Simple, magical, ferocious, visionary. Inevitably, Von Trier's spartan aesthetic has American critics citing "Our Town," but in both method and spirit Dogville has much more in common with Brecht's "The Good Woman of Setzuan" (written in Denmark, ironically), another sorrowful disquisition on the mercenary aspects of human nature. Anything this ostentatiously artificial demands to be read as allegory, of course, and charges of anti-Americanism aren't entirely groundless -- certainly the film is very, very critical of the way that the U.S. treats its underclass, and to argue that Von Trier isn't entitled to feel that disgust without having set foot in the continental 48 is patently absurd. Still, I was unprepared for the cathartic force of the closing credits, which make a sudden leap from the absurdly abstract to the lyrically particular, and pushed your stoic correspondent over the edge into tears. All this and it's just a humdinger of a yarn, exacting and relentless -- the three hours whiz by, and it's a shame that most folks will have to make do with the distrib-friendly 140-minute cut the producers are now shopping around. John Hurt: greatest voice since Welles." - Mike D'Angelo.

posted by Linus | 8:23 PM