Surprise: Film with Von Trier Screenplay Satirizes American Idiocy


Yet more buckshot and spleen launched in America’s general direction, Lars von Trier’s screenplay for Dear Wendy marks the latest volume of his history of violence, though director Thomas Vinterberg—following on from his loopy film maudit It’s All About Love—has a lighter trigger finger than his inflammatory Dogme colleague. Son of a dead miner in a dying coal town, Dick (Jamie Bell) is a sensitive kid out of place in Estherslope, a dusty burg shakily conjured from von Trier’s most weather-beaten tintype fantasies—Dogville with decor. Unionizing his fellow misfits, Dick forms the Dandies, a gang of pacifist gun nuts. Bunking in a disused works where the Zombies play forever, the Dandies name and master their firearms and even go so far as to marry these antique “partners” (the epistolary romance implied in the title plays out between Dick and his pearl-handled missus). Especially in the climactic, clumsily staged gunfight, the prevailing mode is wide-eyed idiocy—which might be the point, since von Trier’s satirical target is the hypocrisy of (news flash!) America’s eagerness to enforce stability and security with all guns blazing. As the current president once put it in a slightly different context, “This war is really about peace.”

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