In this Podunk of pooches, dogs bark but nary a canine is seen. Actually, nothing?s seen, except a town blueprint, where chalk outlines form houses and stenciled street names constitute roads. Humanity is thrust to the forefront as Nicole Kidman?s sweetie-with-a-secret hides from gangsters in a tiny mining village, enlivening its woeful citizens (who nevertheless exploit her) and wooing Paul Bettany’s aw-shucks intellectual. With John Hurt’s fanciful narration, Lars von Trier?s crude naturalism plays like experimental theater with bursts of fable. Think Wes Anderson adapting Theodore Dreiser. Initial inaccessibility gives way to a tragically pure vision of innocence twisted by the hidden hands of human cruelty. Just as ”Dancer in the Dark”’s Busby Berkeley numbers evolve from schizo-flights to logical responses to savagery, Dogville?s environs ring true as hollow walls in a harrowing reality.
EXTRASCommentary by von Trier and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle.