Sunday, September 18, 2005
The film is powerful, though and in surprising ways. At first it appears to be a gentle, self-conscious send-up of small town life--and the American tendency toward romanticizing small town living.
But the story slowly moves into more difficult territory, evolving into something more provocative and more substantial: Ultimately, Von Trier seems to be skewering the very idea of community. And he does so with such precision--and from such a detached, objective distance--that it's hard not to feel implicated by his compelling, pessimistic critique.
In the meantime, Nicole Kidman, Philip Baker Hall, Zeljko Ivanek and an excellent ensemble navigate the difficult terrain adeptly, giving subtle performances that honor Von Trier's stylized approach.
The film (probably not first date material) runs 177 minutes, so be sure to slot yourself the better part of an evening or afternoon.