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DOGVILLE

A lovely mystery lady on the run is made to feel less than at home when she seeks refuge in a dump of a Rocky Mountain town during the Great Depression. Mercifully, there is such a thing as revenge.

CAST: Nicole Kidman, Paul Bettany, Stellan Skarsgard, Lauren Bacall, Jean-Marc Barr, Blair Brown, James Caan, Patricia Clarkson, Jeremy Davies, Siobhan Fallon, Ben Gazzara, Philip Baker Hall, Udo Kier, Harriet Andersson, Bill Raymond

DIRECTOR: Lars Von Trier

"Lars von Trier has never been to America, but he has an unshakable notion of what America is like, and his conviction is that it's a village of the damned…He has made a work eager to shock, and often it does: ‘Dogville’ is severe in its outrage, and at times very foolish, and response is inevitably going to split between those who hate the film and the mischief ascribable to its creator, and those who love its stubborn, ornery vigor. But this galvanizing cinematic work is also gorgeous, experimental, alive with a Scandinavian strain of chutzpah, and artistically elegant…Consider me firmly on the side of those willing to love the Danish brute and this stunning slap-in-the-face film." --Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

"For passion, originality, and sustained chutzpah, this austere allegory of failed Christian charity and Old Testament payback is von Trier's strongest movie—a masterpiece, in fact. With its saintly, debased female victim and roots in melodrama, Dogville resembles von Trier's ‘Breaking the Waves’ and ‘Dancer in the Dark’ but is more distanced and mature than either…the movie belongs to Kidman, who delivers another remarkable performance—acting natural in an almost absurdly diagrammatic setting…Running nearly three hours without a single boring minute, ‘Dogville’ builds in suffering to the apocalyptic conclusion." --J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

"Not a breath of air or natural light passes across the set: we’re in the dead zone of schematic abstraction and didactic moral fable…Poor Grace has become the living receptacle of Dogville’s venality and lust (the men take turns raping her). But at the end of the fable there’s a twist. This female Jesus seeks revenge. What Lars von Trier has achieved is avant-gardism for idiots. From beginning to end, ‘Dogville’ is obtuse and dislikable, a whimsical joke wearing cement shoes…The movie is, of course, an attack on America—its innocence, its conformity, its savagery—though von Trier is interested not in the life of this country (he’s never been here) but in the ways he can exploit European disdain for it…Kidman is quiet and touching, but, despite her sincere efforts, she will not drag the iron carcass of ‘Dogville’ into success."--David Denby, The New Yorker

"The clearest path toward understanding Lars von Trier, whose three-hour quasi-Christian allegory, ‘Dogville,’ is certain to divide audiences into passionate champions and hissing naysayers, is to accept that he is a ruthless provocateur with a practical joker's sensibility…As a contemptuous, nose-thumbing expression of this Danish director's misanthropy, the movie is relentlessly true to its hateful vision, depicting as a lie the ideal of embracing human community… A lot of fuss has been made about Mr. von Trier's supposed anti-Americanism. (He has never visited.) It seems to me that this showy stance is more a provocative maneuver than a hardened prejudice. As long as the United States is called the promised land where the streets are paved with gold, its myths are ripe for puncture. We ought to be able to stand it." Stephen Holden, The New York Times

"‘Dogville’ is a stunning display of a filmmaker adventuring on the far side of what's possible…In stripping back cinematic contrivances, the Danish maverick lays the characters and their actions bare, and the minimalist setting lends the story an even stronger sense of allegory…Symbolism swells throughout von Trier's radical work of art, which ends on a vengeful note of monstrous violence, before the slap-in-the-face end credits unspool a montage of photos of poverty in America set to David Bowie's ‘Young Americans.’ Bettany and Kidman, who gives a powerful, wrenching performance, lead an excellent ensemble cast -- with the exception of Sevigny, who seems to be (over)acting in a different movie." --Megan Lehmann, The New York Post

"In its savage, thinly veiled representation of American-style righteousness at its most debased, ‘Dogville’ owes more to Arthur Miller's Salem witch trials than it does to Thornton Wilder's Grover's Corners. Ultimately beholden to neither, ‘Dogville’ is an audaciously original feat of allegorical story.telling, one of those visionary achievements that stirs moviegoers into a fury and goes on to define a decade…In Dogville, von Trier embodies a country that has degenerated from the refuge of the yearning-to-breathe-free into the very dragon the tired masses thought they were fleeing. He gives us a strong-armed picture that demands, fittingly enough, that you be for it or against it." --Jan Stuart, Newsday

"Set during the Depression in an isolated Rocky Mountain mining community, the film centers almost entirely on the faces of the townspeople, which Von Trier frames vividly. There’s nothing static about his technique, but everything else about the movie is dreary and closed off. Kidman plays a woman fleeing gangsters who is taken in by the tight-knit community and put to work. The result is like a neo-Brechtian cross between ‘Our Town’ and Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Lottery,’ as Von Trier hammers home—at close to three hours—the startling news that corruption rests deep in the heartland." --Peter Rainer, New York Magazine

"Kidman gives the most emotionally bruising performance of her career in ‘Dogville’…The film is a crushing critique of capitalist America…In the last part of ‘Dogville,’ von Trier pulls off a daring stunt that forces us to detach from Grace. It's a scene of shocking gravity, and Kidman is up to the challenge, ending the film in a blaze of brutal glory. For all the plot detours and dead spots, this is strong, stinging filmmaking. Von Trier, light years from the formula doggerel at the multiplex, delivers something rare these days: a film of ideas." --Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

"It is darkly funny, intellectually challenging and obliquely didactic…kudos to Danish director Lars Von Trier for attempting a thought-provoking film that is distinctly different from most screen fare…Dogville symbolizes America; the film accuses the country of initially welcoming outsiders but ultimately exploiting them. Von Trier spares no punches, showing the impotence of liberal Tom and the closed-minded cruelty of the conservative townsfolk…Von Trier's sociopolitical statements are not subtle, but they are artfully conveyed…When was the last time a movie forced you to take stock of how our country is perceived from afar?" --Claudia Puig, USA Today

"‘Dogville’ surprises, repulses and provokes. It's also brilliant and infuriating, wise and naïve, outrageous yet unforgettable…a sublime slap in the face to moviemaking, and certainly to capitalist values. Von Trier clearly feels America invites retribution because of the high-handed way it treats underdogs…Nicole Kidman and an excellent cast give amazing performances under artificial, possibly unpleasant circumstances. They perform on a bare stage where chalk outlines map out the streets and houses of a supposedly typical American town in the Rockies… you might walk out of ‘Dogville,’ but you can't dismiss its unmistakable artistry." --Jami Bernard, The New York Daily News