Sometimes a movie is just disappointing. I had read all sorts of good things about Lars Von Trier's Dogville. I knew it was going to be something different as this is the guy who made Breaking the Waves. Dogville has quite a bit more polish, but has its own quirks. To start with, the setting is sometime in 1930's America, out west I guess.
Paul Bettany plays Tom Edison, a man who fashions himself something of the town philosopher of Dogville. He is giving these lectures saying how Dogville needs to learn to accept. But there are no gifts to accept until Grace (Nicole Kidman) comes to town. She is able to slowly break through and the town accepts her at fist, then comes more distrust and a breakdown in the morality of the town as Grace becomes the unwilling but unfighting town whore.
I think the movie is supposed to give us some sort of lesson in American morality and how morality can be fluid and not such a sticking point as we'd like to think. The movie shows the transition between grace and digrace.
But good lord is this a slow and fairly dull movie!
I was able to easily accept how the sets were laid out. Rather than being set in a city or a village and having there be real buildings the film takes place on a set where the houses and walls and bushes are all drawn on the ground in outline (as is the dog), and there are no doors but sound effects let us know when the door is knocked or closed. It is something like theatre, and it gives actors room to act without a real prop or location.
Many people think this movie is something special, but I just didn't care. The narration told us too much rather than letting the film show it, and the dialogue was a bit self conscious in how the characters present themselves.
Ugh. It's a long three hour movie that feels longer.