Admit it: Lars von Trier is annoying. He also happens to be pretty brilliant, which is why so many of Danish dogma dude's films are infuriating, including this one. As a semisequel to Dogville, this gut-wrenching film set in the 1930s looks much like a play, with few sets or props. Bryce Dallas Howard, a rich daddy's girl, comes on a plantation in which slavery still seems to exist.
Her gangster father (Willem Dafoe) urges her to move on, but she's determined to "save" the poor black folks. That they don't want her help and have no use for her patronizing manner makes little difference. What ensues is von Trier's harsh look at good intentions, and he's determined to drill it home, over and over again. The moral lessons are reminiscent of innumerable episodes of The Twilight Zone, but there's nothing derivative about von Trier's telling, style and ultimate effect. If you don't mind being subjected to moralizing or the denigration of blacks (all to prove a point, of course), you might find the whole experience riveting. And you'll definitely think twice before doing a good deed.
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