145 - Dogville (2003)

A fugitive seeks refuge in a small Colorado town called Dogville.

Grace (Nicole Kidman) is on the run from the mob and ends up in a small town called Dogville. There she meets Tom Edison (Paul Bettany) who persuades her that the town can keep her in their protection from her prosecutors.

Grace agrees to stay if all the townspeople can agree. In exchange for her staying Grace picks up the jobs that no-one has time to do, and while the townsfolk are grateful at first, they soon turn on Grace as her pursuers pile on the pressure.

As Dogville begins to maltreat Grace, they are unaware of her secret that could have dire consequences on their mountainside retreat.

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
Mere seconds into watching Dogville I realised I had seen part of it before on television. It is instantly recognisable because of the unique method of drawing the set with white chalk lines on a black floor. The scenery is sparse, forcing the audience to use their imagination and for this reason everyone will have a completely different view of Dogville.

Of course, some will detest this method of storytelling. It may look like a filmed production of a play but by using this method of presentation, director Lars von Trier completely exposes both his set and characters in such a dramatic fashion. One scene involves a 'behind closed doors' rape which is shockingly revealed to everyone on stage whilst they perform their menial daily tasks blissfully unaware.

The standout performance is clearly from Kidman whose portrayal of the vulnerable, innocent girl with a huge secret is outstanding. Alongside her though is the underrated Bettany who provides a vaguely moral outlook from the villagers. Both create a stand-offish chemistry that is perfect for their roles.

You'll know within seconds if you hate it - if you can get over the initial shock of there being no scenery you'll love it.