Manderlay

Manderlay

(2005)
Mad cinematic revisionist Lars von Trier continues his reinvention of American history with Manderlay, the second installment of his USA - Land of Opportunity trilogy. As with the first film, Dogville (2003), he employs the Brechtian device of filming on a soundstage with a painted floor, only a few pieces of decor and props and a curtain cyclorama for backdrop.

Bryce Dallas Howard resumes the role that Nicole Kidman previously played, as the daughter of a 1930s gangster in the deep South. She becomes enraged with the attitude of the owners of a cotton plantation towards slavery. But, always the trickster, director von Trier cheekily implies that black Americans are complicit in their own oppression.

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51% of critics recommend.
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  • BBC

    A bare-bones soundstage, a swipe at US policy, an embattled ginger heroine... Yes, it's the return of Lars von Trier with part two in the trilogy begun by Dogville. Alas, even radical Danish auteurs can fall victim to the law of diminishing returns: like so many follow-ups, Manderlay struggles to recapture its predecessor's startling novelty. Nevertheless, there are still provocations to ponder as gangster's daughter Grace (The Village's Bryce Dallas Howard, stepping in for Nicole Kidman) attempts to reform a community of black slaves... Full Review

  • I wouldn't go so far as to claim Manderlay is fun to watch. Von Trier, who can made compulsively watchable films ("Breaking the Waves"), has found a style that will alienate most audiences. Maybe it's necessary... Full Review

  • Unstintingly raw and cynical, this disconcerting and deeply affecting State Of The Union treatise regularly comes dangerously close to caricature... Full Review

  • Anybody can make a movie that's anti-slavery. But to make a movie that's explicitly anti-democracy-that's something... Full Review

  • To warm to Manderlay, the chilly second installment of Lars von Trier's not-yet-finished three-part Brechtian allegory examining United States history, you must be willing to tolerate the derision and moral arrogance of a snide European intellectual thumbing his nose at American barbarism... Full Review

  • In truth, von Trier is not so much a filmmaker as a misanthropic mesmerist, who uses movies to bend the viewer to his humorless will... Full Review

  • Hate is too strong an emotion to spend on such a clumsy, bloodless broadside against human foibles in general and American follies in particular... Full Review