Back Shelf Beauties
by Willie Waffle


I have been looking forward to this movie for what seems like 2 years. On the surface, it sounded as if Dogville would be a great movie with a gripping plot, fantastic cast and one of Hollywood's biggest stars. Unfortunately, all of this brilliance was placed in the hands of a quirky director who doesn't care if you and I like it. I guess he was successful if he wanted to offend us all.

Nicole Kidman stars as Grace - a woman on the run from trouble and seeking safety in a small Colorado mining town during the depression. The townspeople, swayed by Tom (Paul Bettany), agree to hide her as long as she helps them with various tasks. As her stay in Dogville continues, the requests get more outrageous and inappropriate, to the point where Grace must wonder if she has stumbled into a worse fate than the one she has been trying to avoid.

Can Grace put up with the town's growing demands? Why is she running?

Dogville is a dog alright. Writer/director Lars von Trier decided to turn Dogville into an experimental film that went as badly as one of my high school chemistry labs. Instead of making a REAL movie, with sets, props, different locations and more, von Trier has staged the entire film on a naked theater stage with chalk outlines for the buildings, and a tape recorder voicing the barking dog. I hope he saved enough chalk to outline the carcass of his dead career, or maybe my body after I croak from outrage.

This sparseness, teamed with his insistence on sapping every bit of life out of his otherwise talented cast (Lauren Bacall! Blair Brown! Patricia Clarkson! Phillip Baker Hall!), makes you feel as if you're watching a bad college play or some production off, off, off, off-Broadway (like maybe in Poughkeepsie). Every actor is lifeless, obviously at the direction of the mad director/writer, and the dialogue is pseudo-philosophical, pretentious junk as Von Trier tries to make all of this seem like some sort of high-minded debate gone bad.

Kidman does her best to persevere throughout this disaster of a film, but even her fabulousness isn't enough. She excels as the frail flower seeking protection, and shows a stronger side when necessary. Bettany does a fine job as the philosophizing young man, but has to deliver the silliest of lines for the weakest of characters. I guess he'll be calling Russell Crowe to see if there is a role for him in Cinderella Man.

Dogville is one to avoid at all costs. Someday, far into the future, if you see it on the Bravo cable channel, you might want to watch it just to satisfy your own curiosity, but don't give any money to these people.

0 Waffles (Out Of 4)

Copyright 2004 - WaffleMovies.com