Argue that von Trier's latest is theatre and not cinema. But at least acknowledge that Dogville, in a didactic and politicised stage tradition, is a great play that shows a deep understanding of human beings as they really are.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
What Lars von Trier has achieved is avant-gardism for idiots. From beginning to end, Dogville is obtuse and dislikable, a whimsical joke wearing cement shoes. [29 March 2004, p. 103]
It really is a masterpiece--von Trier's first, as it happens.
For passion, originality, and sustained chutzpah, this austere allegory of failed Christian charity and Old Testament payback is von Trier's strongest movie--a masterpiece, in fact.
The film centers almost entirely on the faces of the townspeople, which Von Trier frames vividly. Theres nothing static about his technique, but everything else about the movie is dreary and closed off.
Kidman gives the most emotionally bruising performance of her career in Dogville, a movie that never met a cliche it didn't stomp on.
If Dogville has a reason for importance, it is the astonishing all-star ensemble who try very hard to put life into their cardboard characters and make this silly film work.
A postmodern morality play stripped nearly bare by its precocious creator, until only its boldness, cutting insight, intermittent hilarity and bracing violence remain.
The incendiary Dogville confirms the director's sadistic knack for locating his characters' (and his audience's) soft spots and prodding them for a singular emotional experience.
An artistically experimental, ideologically apocalyptic blast at American values that is as obvious in intent as it is murky in aesthetic achievement.