If Lars Von Trier provided mercy within Dogville, I’d say he did a fairly poor job at showing it, but thank god for that. Dogville is the first work of art to bring me to my knees and reminded me of my own humanity.
A young fugitive named Grace (Nicole Kidman) escapes from a mob of gangsters into a very small town called Dogville. The town offers her a place to hide and in return she seeks to pay them back with physical labor. The town gladly accepts the extra, yet unnecessary, benefits she brings to the community but gets to the point where they grow dependent on her company and become, ironically, pretty fucking arrogant.
The movie is split up into a prologue and 9 chapters with a narrator to guide the story along. The story also takes place, almost always, in the town of Dogville (other than the beautiful scene of Grace’s escape in the truck).
Stylistically speaking, Lars Von Trier, yet again, plays ruthlessly with the lines of film making. And I use the word “lines” both literally and as a figure of speech, which you’ll realize my clever play on words within the first few seconds of watching the movie (hehe). There are literally no walls in the movie. And though some may argue how Trier just did it for the sake of being radical, I’d argue the lack of “proper” settings is both innovative and effective for a movie like this one. The visual transparency tied along with the obliviousness of each character creates an interesting contrast, especially the way some scenes are shot.
Trier creates a simple landscape but with one hell of a journey. One that relies on character development, references, and metaphors. First in the town of Dogville, the people are reluctant to strangers. Once Grace becomes more beneficial to the pack, they become friendly and exploit her. But when you take their bone away or if you come too close to the truth, they will bare their teeth and become territorial.
The movie takes on a very unique sense of justice which turns into a disturbing and outrageous sense of humor. Nicole Kidman pulled me in with her vulnerability, charm, and forgiveness and then kicked me in the face with her character’s final realization.
Dogville is about humans and their behavior of greed and power given the time and place. The dark emotions are both vibrant and familiar which makes it all the more provoking.