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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.
Like a retread of Dogville only it's far less effective and rarely transcends its simple provocation. The racial emphasis seems somewhat misguided, perhaps even misinformed, but there are a few memorable scenes that make it worth viewing, especially for Von Trier fans.
Once again LVT stacks the deck with an absurd situation that makes pretty much everyone look like an asshole. He opens up complex issues here, ones that are worth pondering. The scenario isn't TOO far-fetched and allows for some intriguing facets. However Lars provides no answers, nor anything resembling an answer. Instead he wraps it up with a few cheap shots at America. It's like he just can't help himself. Putting aside LVT's childish jabs, it's a pretty good movie.
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.
Obviously not close to "Dogville" (Kidman is out of the picture, and the novelty of the Brechtian approach is now long-gone), but still a complex, difficult film that is unafraid to pose questions about democracy.
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.