Von Trier returns! His latest provocation features a central character who suffers greatly at the hands of humanity (not unlike other films I’ve seen in the last couple months). As you probably know, the story takes place during the Depression in a small town in the Colorado Rocky Mountains which Nicole Kidman (Grace) stumbles upon while fleeing the mob. The town is populated by an all-star cast (including Lauren Bacall, Paul Bettany, Ben Gazzara and Philip Baker Hall). At first the townspeople embrace Grace, but soon the cowardice, exploitation, and cruelty that are the hallmarks of humanity emerge. The townspeople put Grace through brutal torments and all the while she forgives them, until a horrifying ending that I found exhilaratingly provocative. The film was shot on a soundstage; the town is suggested by words/drawings marked on the floor and a few symbolic props. It’s been taking a bit of a critical drubbing, having been called (among other things) cynical, deranged and sadistic. It probably is, but I enjoyed it immensely.
- Apr 14, 2004