Dogville - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Dogville Reviews

Page 2 of 176
January 6, 2016
Dogville depicts the happenings of a humble little American town, of the same name, when a troubled newcomer stumbles into town and begins to stir its residents out of their comfort zone. It is the first movie in director Lars Von Trier's USA: Land of Opportunities series that follows a woman named Grace, portrayed here by Nicole Kidman, as she moves through America experiencing its history and culture. Here, she has somewhat of a backwards Cinderella story as Von Trier strips the idea of a small American town down to its bare essentials.

The entire film takes place in a black box on a sound stage where the buildings and locations of the town are outlined in chalk on the floor, like a life size map with minimal props around to sell the idea that this is where these citizens live. It's strange for a fully fledged film, but it doesn't take long to get used to, as the story and characters are enticing enough to fill in the gaps for a suspension of belief. Before long, you won't even notice that walls don't hide anything from anyone and the mine at the edge of town isn't just a series of wooden arches.

With a background that is mostly black, the cinematography is pretty limited to a few interesting lighting effects and pulling focus to the actors at hand. It seems that it would be very fun and freeing for an actor to be able to work with an ensemble cast on a project like this. The ensemble is so filled with great actors that there are too many to name them all, but the chemistry among them is smooth, fitting them together like pieces of a complete puzzle. They all get their moments to shine within the stories that intertwine these households together.

Dogville is somehow a convincing combination of several mediums, film, the stage and prose, that could have gone horribly wrong. All three of these mediums have different ways of telling the same story that need to be taken into account when adapting from one to the other, but here, they all work separately and simultaneously together without becoming a jumbled mess. This is like a filmed production of a stage show playing out the actions read from a novel, with John Hurts as the voice of God narrating the actions, thoughts, backgrounds and feelings of all of the characters, which sounds a bit much but actually ends up being simple and lovely.

Though it does still tread that balance of realism and fantasy, this is very different for a film from Lars Von Trier. It is much less involved and simple, in a way, but that lends itself to how Von Trier may be perceiving America, a place the director hasn't really experienced first hand, and it's people who have long been critically harsh and at odds with him. Even still, Dogville manages to be yet another bitter and thought provoking look at life and the struggles we experience.
January 3, 2016
Simply a masterpiece!
December 5, 2015
drab and very forgettable.
½ December 3, 2015
Maybe I am just not "artsy" enough to enjoy this movie. I understand the statement the director is trying to make with this picture. And yes, it is very unique the way it is show. The movie is filmed all on one soundstage, set up like a town. To me this is Von Triers just being strange and disturbing for no reason once again. His movies have a meaning underneath all the stuff he puts on screen, and his movies are obviously not made for the masses, that is quite clear. Basically a girl ends up in a small nice town and everyone seemingly is good hearted and nice to her. She eventually is chained up like a dog and used as a sex slave for the guys in town, they take turns with her. Then she leaves and comes back and gets her revenge and kills everyone in the town. End of story, don't bother with this movie, keep on moving.
November 30, 2015
Maybe I am just not "artsy" enough to enjoy this movie. I understand the statement the director is trying to make with this picture. And yes, it is very unique the way it is show. The movie is filmed all on one soundstage, set up like a town. To me this is Von Triers just being strange and disturbing for no reason once again. His movies have a meaning underneath all the stuff he puts on screen, and his movies are obviously not made for the masses, that is quite clear. Basically a girl ends up in a small nice town and everyone seemingly is good hearted and nice to her. She eventually is chained up like a dog and used as a sex slave for the guys in town, they take turns with her. Then she leaves and comes back and gets her revenge and kills everyone in the town. End of story, don't bother with this movie, keep on moving.
November 8, 2015
Like reading a novel...
October 14, 2015
At least the ending is decent. But really I'd rather not have seen the movie at all.
Robert B.
Super Reviewer
½ September 30, 2015
Dogville is a talented work, yes, but is it a great film? No, It's not great. The ending is flat, especially for such a long buildup. It's not wholly a film either. It's not that the stage play thing is wrong, it's fine (especially since the story is reminiscent of Greek tragedy). The problem is that it is lacking in light and sound. Maybe that is a good thing since the second half is heavy and long and feels real enough as it is. Still, Dogville is definitely a film to watch for two reasons: (1) an excellent performance by Nicole Kidman and (2) food for thought, one is definitely given a few things to think about. But be warned, this is not a film one watches to be entertained.
½ July 23, 2015
As with other Lars Von Trier's films, it's the experience (as an audience while watching the film) is what you will find remarkable and beautiful. Compelling piece of experimental film. Not for everyone but it was good! :) Nicole Kidman is exceptional.
½ July 6, 2015
A twisted Americana in a dark reflection of "Our Town". A tad long and heavy-handed, but the concept is fascinating, sparse settings giving light to characters both ignorant and interesting.
½ May 25, 2015
Called anti-American by some critics and tiresome in its simplicity by others, "Dogville" is not anti-American nor is it tiresome: it is, instead, a deceivingly bare-bones, bizarro masterstroke of a satirical small town America. Not echoing the satanic elements of "Twin Peaks" or the ugliness-under-the-beauty breadth of "In the Heat of the Night"'s Sparta, "Dogville" would rather take on the old trait that the human race is inherently cruel and violent, despite an initially hospitable facsimile.
Von Trier, the most controversial director of the 2000s (sorry Tom Six), doesn't make such a bold claim with outright magnification; he takes nearly three hours to build upon the suggestion, mounting and mounting until the thought becomes dreadfully exaggerated. And, in a polarizing method of story amplification, sets are not sets but chalky squares on a soundstage, given identity through minimalist props and map-like text designating the area (the main road is stamped "Elm St.). For most, "Dogville"'s austere texture will be off-putting. Its complete lack of a structural "setting" and its epic running-time are attributes easier to leave than to take.
I, perhaps in the minority, don't just appreciate von Trier's daring filmmaking approach here; I applaud it. It works. It's thrilling. "Dogville" dawdles at times, and it is especially difficult to avoid clock-watching after the second hour, but impressive is the way that von Trier manages to pull off a film so stylistically eyebrow raising. We are only distracted by its design for the first few minutes; the screenplay, so strong in its ideas and dialogue, gives the environment a three-dimensional shape. Thought-provoking and thoroughly one-of-a-kind, this is a film you won't be forgetting any time soon.
Set during The Great Depression, "Dogville" follows Grace (Nicole Kidman), a woman on the run from gangsters. Fleeing the law, she stumbles upon Dogville, a miniature Rocky Mountain town with a population so small it is nearly familial. Tight-knit and untrusting of outsiders, the citizens are unsure of whether to accept Grace into their community. It is eventually decided, through Tom (Paul Bettany), the self-appointed spokesman of the public, that Grace can stay as long as she makes herself useful, acting as a maid for anyone who asks. People are reluctant, but before long, she becomes a welcome addition to the normally close-minded Dogville.
While most films would end happily, with Grace starting a new chapter in her life, "Dogville" continues on and descends into more malevolent territory. As one too many secrets come to light and more and more citizens begin to harbor hateful feelings toward Grace, it doesn't take long for the once pleasant town to transform into a poisonous brewing of malice.
It took me three days to finish "Dogville", pacing myself at an hour every night -- not a response of boredom, but a response hoping to savor. With nine chapters and a prologue, the film is decidedly a magnum opus of ideas, most of them penetrative if you take the time to really think about what you're watching. By spacing viewing out as far as possible, I was then able to digest the film -- helpful considering its size -- and in return, I found myself riveted. Not riveted in the same way I was when watching Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton play verbal cat-and-house in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?": riveted by the performances, von Trier's unfolding of his conceptual idiosyncrasies.
"Dogville"'s plunge into perniciousness does not come swiftly; it climbs slowly, arriving almost inevitably. "Evil can arise anywhere," von Trier stated about the film upon release. "As long as the situation is right." With a relationship built on enigma and dead end, the town's disdain for Grace comes as no surprise, but the way they make it known is terrifying, affecting us enormously. Humans may be inherently cruel and violent, but von Trier's delivery of the sentiment is hardly contrived. If most were to philander around a hellhole like Dogville long enough, how long would it be before they spoke their minds instead of hiding their feelings for the sake of manners? How long would it be before confrontations became a norm? The shocking conclusion places morality itself in question. Heaven may be a place on earth if you find the right person, but if your life is sinful, crime-riddled, lonesome, does politeness, unfiltered kindness, matter?
A film like "Dogville" requires performers unafraid of ambitious material, and the cast, large and monumental, transcends limitations. Kidman is fearless, by turns sympathetic and maddening, and her co-stars, particularly Bacall, Clarkson, and Bettany, startle us in their ability to convincingly walk around wearing two faces and really mean it when they rip off their inviting one.
"Dogville" is an extremely difficult film. It requires a viewer that regards patience as a virtue. But with its cerebral ideas and deceptively condensed setting, it offers filmmaking thrilling in its unwillingness to conform. Von Trier doesn't fear his audience and he doesn't fear his innermost beliefs. Call him controversial, call him xenophobic; he goes where other directors wouldn't dare.
½ May 20, 2015
More theater than cinema ... but, with that constand narrating voice, it could also be a book. A voice reading a book, with live dialogs.
The unusual, to say the least, setting takes minutes to become "nornal". And, despite everything happens in an almost empy theater stage, the plot is so interesting and catchy that the almost tree hours of the film looks much shorter. It is a little boring on spots, but it does not last long, something unexpected, and often extreme, is going to happen all the times.
½ May 14, 2015
The film blew me away. Give it a little time because it is a slow one but nicole kidwoman is pretty gnarley. Great stuff
½ March 28, 2015
This is the fourth movie I've seen by the infamous Lars von Trier, and I have to admit it's turning out I like most of his work a lot better than I ever thought I would after Antichrist. This actually, by pure chance, makes an interesting comparison with the previous film/filmmaker I watched, Funny Games by Michael Haneke. On the surface, von Trier and Haneke would seem to have a lot in common: both are deadly serious European art filmmakers who seem to specialize in exploring the darkest aspects of human existence while denying the audience any of the pleasures most people expect from movies. An interesting n+1 article I found labelled Haneke and von Trier as part of the same movement, a movement the author called "sadomodernism." However, while every Haneke film I watch convinces me further that Haneke is essentially a fraud with nothing to say, every von Trier film I watch (except for Antichrist, obviously) convinces me that, for better or worse, he's the real deal. Haneke makes the audience feel pain in order to prove to himself how much better and smarter he is than us; von Trier makes the audience feel pain because he himself feels pain.

This movie, which runs for a rather long 3 hours, is built around a unique mise-en-scene conceit: while the film's story is set in a town in Colorado in the 1930s, the actual set is just a huge, empty stage with the outlines of buildings drawn in chalk on the floor and labelled. There are a few props - beds, cabinets, a couple of cars, etc. - but the buildings themselves are purely imaginary. Whenever the actors "enter" one, they put their hands around invisible doorknobs to open the invisible doors. The whole thing is a bit like an experimental theater piece, but with uses of sound and cinematography unique to film.

The story revolves around a woman named Grace (Nicole Kidman) who appears in the tiny town of Dogville while running away from gangsters for unexplained reasons. The town has to decide what to do with her presence, and the film spends the next three hours charting the rise and fall of Grace's relationship to the town. There are quite a lot of great actors playing the townsfolk - Paul Bettany, Patricia Clarkson, Stellan Skarsgaard, Jeremy Davies, Philip Baker Hall, Chloe Sevigny, and Lauren Bacall among them. Everyone does a great job committing to the unusual premise, and their performances collectively create a strange but believable little world.

In spite of the obviously bizarre staging, in some ways the film's story and characters feel a bit more conventional than usual for von Trier. At times, the film seemed like a dark twist on things like the play Our Town or the novel Winesburg, Ohio. Eventually, of course, this being von Trier, things go down into utter sadness and degradation, but what did you expect? One of my main criticisms of von Trier's Nymphomaniac was that the bleak ending felt out of place and trite; here, the similarly bleak ending actually feels earned and inevitable. My main complaint here is that the movie at times feels like it's 3 hours long for the sake of being 3 hours long; there's some material that probably could've been cut without much changing the overall effect of the movie. Still, this is a better, smarter, more restrained piece of filmmaking than I ever would've thought von Trier capable of after my initial exposure to him. If you have the patience for this sort of thing, I do recommend trying it some time.
January 25, 2015
VERY close to 4 1/2 stars on this one. While Dogville may not be perfect in my mind, it is certainly a film that I will be thinking about for a long time. The stage-play style is surprisingly effective and the story is compelling throughout all three hours. These opinions may be the exact opposite for someone else and I wouldn't blame them. But I really think Dogville is something special.
½ January 10, 2015
This style really wasn't for me. I am sure it's brilliant, but I just couldn't get into it.
½ January 5, 2015
Another fascinating film by Von trier, Dogville explores the disturbing truth of humanity. Most interesting thing about Dogville is that the whole movie is filmed on a theatre like set. Nicole Kidman was breathtaking as troubled daughter who runs away from her father who is a gangster, to start a good life but what happens to her in Dogville was inhuman. It starts very slowly on a very simple story but then halfway through it becomes really interesting and then we also realise what it is really about, some scenes may shock some viewers.
December 14, 2014
There is a point near the end of this film in which Nicole Kidman and James Caan's characters essentially argue over each other's arrogance. In reality, the arrogance comes not from the characters, but from the writer-director. Lars von Trier has made the sort of incredibly ill-informed and hateful piece of anti-American propaganda that could only come from someone who has never actually been to the country. As usual, von Trier has made a unique and technically brilliant film, but in most other aspects, Dogville ends up being reprehensible.
December 2, 2014
I wouldnt not say that this is Von Triers best here, but it is one of those movies that you would rarely see, and its excelent story, directing, sound, and artistic aprach, are only crippled by the movies slighly unnecesary length and its lack of other creative proposals that might have just impulsed this movie into utter greatness.
November 28, 2014
JAMAIS j'ai réussi à écouter ce film TROP PLAT !!!!
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