Dogville – movie review

Dogville is about moral choices in a small rural town in the midst of the Great Depression. What make the town unusual, is that it has in it a would-be writer and moral philosopher named Tom (Played by Paul Bettany).  He has weekly meetings during which he discusses values and choices in life. The whole town always attends, not because they are interested in the discussions, but basically because there is really nothing else to do in Dogville.

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Then one evening, all their theories get a real-life test. A beautiful stranger named Grace (wonderfully played by Nicole Kidman comes into town. She in on the run from dangerous gangsters, who have offered a large reward for her capture.

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The townspeople have to decide whether to take the risk of hiding her, or to turn her in and collect the money. They take the high road and decide to give her sanctuary. That is the happy ending at which most movies would stop.  However, for Dogville it is just the beginning.

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Grace is so happy at being accepted by the town that she starts helping out wherever she can. At first the people are reluctant to accept any favors. Then, they grow to like the help. But after a while they start to expect more and more and even begin to treat Grace as a sort of town slave.

This movie is in a format that some viewers will find difficult to watch. For one thing it is 3 hours long.  Also, it is not so much a movie as a filmed play. It takes place on a stage with no scenery and almost no stage props.

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Despite these drawbacks it is a film worth seeing. It has an all-stat cast, including   Lauren Bacall, Ben Gazzara, and James CaanIt is a pleasure to watch truly gifted actors practice their craft.

However, what makes the entire film worthwhile its it’s ending. We will not give anything away other than to say it is dramatic and unexpected.  You will be happy you watched the full 3 hours to get to it.

We give this movie 4 Stars ****

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