Dogville starring Nicole Kidman Paul Bettany Lauren Bacall Harriet Andersson JeanMarc Barr - Extraordinary by kellyp990


									Dogville starring Nicole Kidman, Paul
  Bettany, Lauren Bacall, Harriet
    Andersson, Jean-Marc Barr


The latest galvanizing and controversial film from Lars von Trier (Dancer in
the Dark, Breaking the Waves, The Kingdom), Dogville uses ingenious
theatricality to tell the Depression-era story of Grace (Nicole Kidman, The
Others), a beautiful fugitive who stumbles onto a tiny town in the Rocky
Mountains. Spurred on by Tom (Paul Bettany, Master and Commander),
who fancies himself the towns moral guide, the citizens of Dogville first
resist Grace, then embrace her, then resent and torment her--little realizing
they will pay a price for their selfish brutality. The town is indicated by
fragments of building and chalk outlines on a soundstage floor, stylishly
pointing to the movies roots in classic plays (particularly Thornton Wilders
Our Town and Friedrich Durrenmatts The Visit). Several critics have
stridently attacked Dogville as anti-American, but the movies dark,
compelling view applies as easily to Rwanda, Bosnia, the Middle East, or
pretty much anywhere in the world. Also featuring Lauren Bacall, Patricia
Clarkson, Jeremy Davies, Stellan Skarsgârd, Chloe Sevigny, and many
more. --Bret Fetzer

This is about as far away as one can get from a feel good flick, yet it is
undeniably powerful and delivers a most difficult subject to ponder that
really is one of the central themes to the human experience: the delicate
balance between good and evil and how one navigates in the waters of
extreme polarity. Director Lars von Trier has created a uniquely affecting
tale that is played out on a single soundstage with o nly the most basic of
non-human elements so that the focus can be exclusively on the
relationships of the people in Dogville. And it is this intense development of
the dynamics of the characters interactions that makes this film the
powerful statement it is.

What we see in the gradually developing story of Dogville is how noble
traits such as good intentions, giving, forgiveness and long suffering -
when taken to the extreme - can actually empower evil and destroy
oneself. It seems to me the message in this film is that self love is equally
important as love for others. And so, we are taught an important lesson of
Balance here. This issue comes to a dramatic pinnacle with Graces
conversation with her gangster-boss father (James Caan) near the end of
the film in the back of his limo. They both represent arrogance in polarized
opposite ways: hers of the lightside; his of the dark.

In the end, Grace chooses to balance the scales in order to find her own
peace and resolution for the horrors inflicted upon her. We witness karmic
debt being cancelled as Dogville goes up in flames. In my sense of
fairness, it couldnt have ended any other way, and be truthful. I say this not
to condone the actions she ultimately chooses here: the movie is what it is.
Its a lesson in just how out of balance one can become in trying to love
others that we actually become that which we hate: In Graces case, her
altruism taken to the extreme ultimately transforms her into violent
retribution. We are left to speculate that she could have created a much
different and more humane outcome simply by not allowing herself to
become the doormat for all those who did indeed exploit her. That would
have not been possible unless she played the role she played. Had she
embraced more self respect and defined her boundaries, the nasty
outcome would most probably have been aborted entirely. What we see
played out here is the natural result of embracing extremes of polarity. The
truth (and sanity) lies in a healthy balance between the two.

This is a most unique and thought-provocative film about what it means to
be human and live in the cosmic soup of good and evil that we find
ourselves in. I believe that most people desire to be good and kind to their
neighbor. However, there are healthy limits to how much abuse one can
take and if we do not also be kind to ourselves, we are out of balance and
we end up with a mini (or major)-Dogville on our hands. This is an issue
that is central to everyones life to some degree and one we must all come
to resolution with eventually. In contemplating this further, was it not her
own fear that inspired her playing the role of doormat? She wanted to be
saved. THAT was her foundational error.

Nicole Kidmans acting in this film is probably the best of her career. She is
convincing as the archetypical altruistic martyr as she continually chooses
to overlook the bad behaviour of those around her, making allowances for
their weaknesses and deliberately forgives those who exploit her. Excellent
also is Paul Bettany as Tom, who is also an archetype of an all too
common character: seemingly kind and good-hearted at first, but when
push comes to shove is revealed to be a weak, spineless, self -serving
wimp with no real integrity. With Tom, goodness is really all just
appearance. There are many archetypes of dysfunctional humans in this
film... it is indeed a cross section of humanity. (May God have mercy on us
all). Director Trier developes all characters with equal skill as he weaves
the tale in layer upon layer of psychological intrigue.
This film is not easy to watch, for its really a study of the dark side of
humanity. But I think it is a necessary one. It is also a rather long film, and
it did take me a little while for it to grab and sustain my attention, due to the
unorthodox theatrical setting which took some getting used to just because
it so different. But due to the many excellent reviews here I persevered and
Im glad I did for once I allowed myself to become part of the Dogville
world, I was quite affected. Dogville reveals itself to be a powerful
metaphor for the entire world and all of humanity. Yes, we indeed live in a
realm of the predator and the prey, and it seems the thing that matters
most is not the ultimate outcome but how we choose to navigate our way
through the treacherous waters: how fairly we treat ourselves, as equally
as how fairly we treat others.

Substance worth pondering indeed.

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