Thursday, October 2, 2014


Like some kind of Biblical fable about a secret angel showing it's weakness to a group of humans in order to judge their compassion DOGVILLE is the story of a frail woman, Grace (Nicole Kidman), who wanders into the small "town" of Dogville in need of help.  I say town in quotes because its only got like 15 people living there, all on one street.  Anyway, Grace is penniless and looking for shelter.  The townsfolk, somewhat reluctantly, take her in and even after it's discovered that she's wanted by the Law they keep hiding her.  To earn her keep she does odd jobs for citizens of Dogville.  Then things start to take a more sinister turn. 

Before you take it upon yourself to watch DOGVILLE you're first going to need to gird your loins.  The runtime is nearly 3 hours and that's just ridiculous because this story could have easily been told in less than two.  Next (and this is the biggest thing) is there isn't an actual town or sky or trees or anything.  The entire movie is filmed on a single "black box theater"-style stage with the imaginary street and houses and plants and everything drawn out on the floor.  Outside of a few minor set pieces (a desk, an organ, a bed, etc.) the entire film is in your head.  That's an interesting experiment, but it gets old quickly and just comes off looking cheap and pretentious.  Next is the camerawork that seems, by the way it's always teetering around and never standing still, to be taken by somebody wearing Google Glass.  After that is the editing which is just all over the place.  I don't even have any idea what was going on there...was it taken from multiple takes with absolutely no consideration for continuity or flow?  One moment a person will be laying down (cut to the next angle) and literally 0.0001 of a second later they're sitting up.  It happened so flagrantly that it had to been on purpose.  The acting by the impressive cast was good for the most part, but there were a few that seemed not up to their normal standards, so I'm guessing once again: the stiff acting was done intentionally for some kind of artistic reason?

I didn't dislike DOGVILLE.  I'm all for filmmakers taking chances and trying something new, but a lot of the stuff that went on here went right over my stupid little head.  I did take issue with the excessive run time.  I liked the story (even though I didn't really understand what the point of the whole thing was), but it was just too long-winded and the characters too unbelievable.  That last act took forever and how dumb could that main guy be?!

Interesting watch for the braver film lover, but I think most people will be totally unamused.