Seem to be doing better at seeing films that are not on my to see list then films which are! Anyway, latest flick is Dogville (starring Nicole Kidman), which is a very curious but interesting film, quite apart from normal Hollywood fair.
The entire play is shot in a single location – the titular town of Dogville, which is at the end of a mountain road in the Rockies. Grace (played by aforementioned star) arrives in the town, population 15 adults, claiming to be running away from Gangsters (who very shortly afterwards turn up, looking for her). The main player is called Thomas Edison (no relation to the Thomas Edison), who befriends Grace, lacks her under his wings, persuades the town to accept her, and subsequently falls in love with her.
Sounds pretty normal – until you consider that there is a continual voice-over narrative, and chapters are introduced by black screens with white writing saying things like “Chapter 1. In which gunshots are heard and Grace arrives in Dogville.” Even more bizarely, the buildings are represented by white lines on the ground (except for the occasional piece of wall, to which notices are pinned). The actors open and close imaginary doors, but the soundtrack is complete so you hear the knob turning and the door slamming, you hear rain falling on the tin roofs even though you can’t see them! Each ‘room’ has it’s name printed on the floor, and the main street has the letters “ELM STREET” running down the middle. There are some lovely touches, like a bush painted on the ground with the word “Gooseberry”, and the way leaves and snow pile up against the white lines as if they were walls. The overall effect is just like watching a play, except it’s a film!
The strange set aside, the acting is faultless, and the story is extremely well written – I was totally hooked, and desperate to know what happened and how it was going to resolve. As you can probably imagine, the town go from being suspicious of Grace, to accepting her, liking her, then full circle round to hating her again, abusing her and treating her like some kind of slave (complete with a chain around her neck!). Grace is once again aptly named (cf. Bruce Almighty), and gives almost endlessly of herself to the town, only for them to take more and more. Throughout the film she never ‘snaps’, but by the end of film her character has been so corrupted that… well, watch it and see!
In conclusion, I was hooked almost straight away, and remained hooked from start to finish. This film shows both the dark and light side of human nature; how people can be drawn into doing the most awful things, and yet manage to argue around their conscience. But at the same token, how it’s possible to keep giving and loving and keep hope in the most desperate and dark circumstances. I find myself deeply torn about the ending too, between believing it was justified while knowing, on another level, that of course it wasn’t.
Buy this DVD on Amazon