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Mixed or average reviews - based on 29 Critics What's this?

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7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 39 Ratings

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  • Summary: The second installment in Lar Von Trier's United States trilogy, Manderlay centers on a plantation in 1933 Alabama.
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 29
  2. Negative: 9 out of 29
  1. Reviewed by: David Parkinson
    80
    Unstintingly raw and cynical, this disconcerting and deeply affecting State Of The Union treatise regularly comes dangerously close to caricature.
  2. The acting has the bravura stage eloquence of Broadway Shakespeare and the movie is narrated, beautifully, by John Hurt.
  3. 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.
  4. Reviewed by: Michael Ferraro
    60
    If you hated "Dogville" because of the overage of narration or the length of time it took to finally get to a point, you'll be pleased to know that von Trier has lessened both those elements. With that said, it still has some of the same flaws.
  5. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    40
    The subject being race relations, Manderlay is bound to stir considerable debate in intellectual circles, but given the director's abstract style and use of characters to enact an agenda, it's a discussion that will exclude the general public, who will ignore it as they did "Dogville."
  6. 38
    Plagued by moralizing so strident and a style so artificial that the story never has a chance to speak to an audience.
  7. Hate is too strong an emotion to spend on such a clumsy, bloodless broadside against human foibles in general and American follies in particular.

See all 29 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 19
  2. Negative: 4 out of 19
  1. AntonC.
    Mar 30, 2006
    10
    Even wittier and more precise than Dogville.
  2. AliC.
    Jan 30, 2006
    10
    A fantastic film - it's just got the low mark because the US critics so far covered can't handle a depiction of America that is A fantastic film - it's just got the low mark because the US critics so far covered can't handle a depiction of America that is less than flattering (yet are happy to watch US films which mock/patronise other countries). Von Trier can occasionally be childish but here his premise and politics are spot on. Great. Expand
  3. R.G.
    Aug 8, 2006
    9
    I ve seen it once, but i was just as taken back as when i saw dogville. Von Trier is a genius who uses allegory of slavery to portray theI ve seen it once, but i was just as taken back as when i saw dogville. Von Trier is a genius who uses allegory of slavery to portray the events going on in the world right now. Using the past to present current events, is highly affective with the actors all on top of their games. As is the cinematography and the setting, which takes place on a stage. Every problem that comes with grace taking over the plantaion reflects the past and present of policies by USA that affect the world. Questions of exporting democracy and institutions like the world bank arise in the middle as the film. i can go on and on about layers and layers of issues. The dark humor of von trier is at its best and the i cant wait for the next one in the trilogy. Expand
  4. Dextly
    Jan 31, 2006
    8
    To my surprise, not at all as heavy-handed as I'd been led to believe by even my favorite critics, perhaps because the cruelty, To my surprise, not at all as heavy-handed as I'd been led to believe by even my favorite critics, perhaps because the cruelty, ignorance, and betrayals portrayed do not seem at all out of date to me. Howard's performance, awkward at first, settles down nicely amidst the film's gracefully executed Brechtian conceits. Expand
  5. D.B.
    Jun 22, 2006
    8
    This is an excellent movie. The fact that it is a serious, biting, playfully cruel film that uses a Brechtian alienation style to further its This is an excellent movie. The fact that it is a serious, biting, playfully cruel film that uses a Brechtian alienation style to further its criticism of the United States to a quiet intellectual firestorm may be too much for most moviegoers (or critics) to handle. The problem is that none of these critics here are the type of people who enjoy extremely unconventional films. When they see something like MANDERLAY, they cannot get past the ideas the film is trying to convey. Yes, its about slavery, its a criticism of the United States, and it is unrealistic in its portrayal of American people. Of course its unrealistic; movies always are. What they can't seem to appreciate is the entertainment value of this film: its yet another deranged sociological experiment conducted on a barren soundstage that is well written, exceptionally well acted, and quite a lot of fun if you don't get bogged down in its message. Many critics point to von Trier's prankster attitude when levelling his targets (and they seem perturbed by it) but its this same sense of extremely dark fun that makes his movies compulsively watchable. The thrill of watching a microcosm of the most powerful society on Earth go through hardship, then success, then even crueller hardship with the intricate, loving, illuminating and sometimes brilliant detail of excellent minimalist literature is thrilling in its own quiet way. Seeing the human drama of these warped, ideologically charged events portrayed here with shocking subtlety and power by the top-notch cast adds more the layers of interest and connection. If this film was a play, no doubt it would get much more positive reviews than it has. Come to think of it, its purposely stripped-down setting makes it a little like theatre, with an omnipresent audience. And rest assured this film has all the elements of good theatre. Certainly not everybody likes (or can appreciate) good theatre, especially film critics, but if you can, or are interested in something different that will provoke both thought and emotion, see the more twisted (and consequently slightly more effective) DOGVILLE first, and then pull up a chair and prepare to be assaulted by the cool venom of this second installment. And rest assured, any film that will provoke a 15 year old such as myself to write this long a review will surely not bore you if you are inclined to watch movies more intelligent than CLICK or X-MEN III. Expand
  6. M.P.
    Mar 17, 2006
    7
    Political and/or philosophical issues raised by the film are subject to many interpretations. The bottom line is that Manderlay is an Political and/or philosophical issues raised by the film are subject to many interpretations. The bottom line is that Manderlay is an intriguing movie masterfully directed (although not as good as Trier's early films (1984-1991)) that aims to a somewhat suspected audience. Whether you agree with Trier's perspective on thingsor not you have to accept that he has the nerve and, definetly, the skill to make his point. Expand
  7. DJKyosti
    Feb 2, 2006
    0
    This film is absolutely vile. I have been a Lars Van Trier fan from the start, but he has finally gone completely off the rails. No doubt This film is absolutely vile. I have been a Lars Van Trier fan from the start, but he has finally gone completely off the rails. No doubt about it: the U.S. was founded on and continues to perpetuate racial supremacy, and despite the 13th Amendment, the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act, this country still reeks of the badges of slavery and often appears to be a plantation. But, Lars Von Trier has not crafted an interesting, intelligent, coherent, or even entertaining film based on this. The acting is horrible, the script is wooden, and he already used those staging tricks in DOGVILLE. This film wallows in the worst kind of anti-Americanism without offering any solution other than hopelessness, without any real critique, and that all of this is perpetrated by a White, European director is even all the more obnoxious. He has essentialized his Black actors here to the coarsest of stereotypes, and despite the contempt shown for them, saves his worst for his female lead. Without giving anything away, I believe that her treatment demonstrates once and for all what many critics and women have said about Lars all along: he hates women. What ultimately could have been an interesting film with a nifty premise just doesn't work. It was a major disappointment for me, and probably will be to most people who see it. If the point was to provoke, then it succeeds. If there is any other point, then it fails. There is also, perhaps, a parable here about U.S. (and Danish) involvement in Iraq. Which also doesn't work. Ultimately, this is no Brectian discourse as one reviwer has suggested. Brecht was, afterall, a humanist and a teacher. Expand

See all 19 User Reviews

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