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Summary: Manderlay is a plantation where a group of people are living as if slavery hadn't been abolished 70 years earlier. Upon leaving Dogville in 1933, Grace and her father head far south to the state of Alabama where they arrive upon the bizarre place.
von trier's shit-stirring goes a bit too far in this one, to the point where he really seems to lose sight of any thesis in exchange for "look how provocative i am!" on the plus side, bryce dallas howard is pretty good, if not as good as nicole kidman playing the same character
Unlike Dogville's slow build-up to chaos, Manderlay simmers for about two hours, and then von Trier goes straight for the jugular. Not as polished as Dogville, but the conclusion is just as uncomfortable as Dogville's, even if the events leading to it aren't as compelling here.
The often overlooked but in some respects superior sequel to Dogville. Whether it be Dafoe's smarmy gangster, or the sort of whiny liberal arts student Grace played by Howard this second part of the America Trilogy is an effective jab at the darker elements of white guilt and bourgeois liberalism. A film that maybe hit a bit too close to home for some critics is still wonderfully resonant in light of films like The Help.
Although "Manderlay" never reaches the emotional highs of "Dogville", its carefully structured narrative, well-written dialogue, thematic intrigue and moral implications make it a highly compelling watch. Howard doesn't match Kidman's nuance, but she's a solid substitute. The overall product, however, is hampered by the underwhelming ending, which, unlike the monumental finale of "Dogville", is emotionally muted and marks an obvious attempt to underline the message clearly implied by that point.
A fascinating look at racism, slavery (both political and psychological), freedom and (the potential flaws of) idealism. It's a provocative piece of filmmaking, but is so explicit about its message and tries to cover so much that it can feel muddled at times (also it lacks the stylistic mastery of its superior prequel, Dogville). Still it really got me thinking and like Dogville it is manipulative in the best way making you reflect on the reactions it prompts from you early on in the film.
like dogville, but rougher around the edges. the cast isn't as good, the visual style doesn't feel as polished, the ending wasn't as powerful. but this treatise on race, and in particular white man's burden, is nearly as pointed as the amazing first entry into this 2-film trilogy. which is a shame - the ending is obvious in its hint about the previously planned finale on washington. ah well. every feature by von trier, greatest director ever, has now been seen. well except images of liberation.
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