Dogville

"This town is rotten, inside and out."

There's something genuinely repulsive to me about how von Trier makes these hideously ugly and overlong exercises in arthouse pessimism where women experience extreme trauma without having their interior reactions explored at all that culminate in graphic, unpleasant violence that's supposed to be cathartic despite being completely hollow, but hey, that's just me.

Dogville is my least favorite installment of von Trier's exercises because I know exactly what he's trying to do with it, but I still think he's wrong. The stripped-down sets, the period setting, the narration -- it's a parable, I get it, it's meant to be taken thematically. Her name is Grace. The arc of the townspeople's behaviors is predictable, but Grace's sympathy for them just doesn't track, nor does her sudden change of heart. Their behavior isn't innate, it isn't instinctive or defensive. Every person made an active choice, and they should be held accountable in a reasonable manner. The logic here is absurd, and even though I don't at all like how this culminates, it still takes way too long to get there. I firmly believe that this is not a film that has anything unique or compelling to offer, and only lands with critics who enjoy von Trier's brand of emotional manipulation.

Unlike with Dancer in the Dark, I didn't even feel anything with this one beyond frustration. No tears, no clutching my chest, just a few exasperated groans.

Rating: 19/100

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