DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
DEAR WENDY (director: Thomas Vinterberg; screenwriter: Lars von Trier; cinematographer: Anthony Dod Mantle; editor: Mikkel E. G. Nielsen; music: Benjamin Wallfisch; cast: Jamie Bell (Dick Dandelion), Bill Pullman (Officer Krugsby), Mark Webber (Stevie), Michael Angarano (Freddie), Danso Gordon (Sebastian), Novella Nelson (Clarabelle), Chris Owen (Huey), Alison Pill (Susan), Teddy Kempner (Mr. Salomon), Trevor Cooper (Dick's Dad); Runtime: 104;100 MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sisse Graum Jørgensen; Wellspring; 2005-Denmark/Germany/France/UK/ Norway-in English)

 
"The highlight is when a female member of the Dandies bares her breasts, which is about as pointless as the rest of the film."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Those Dogme 95 Danes, director Thomas Vinterberg and writer Lars von Trier, are at it again in launching another of their provocative satirical attacks on America as a land of guns and violence. It's shot at an old military base outside Copenhagen, in an area meant to represent the American southeast. The film is so lacking in wit, boiling over with venom, simple-minded observations and awkwardly achieved lecture points that it's almost unwatchable and certainly not fresh. 

Dick (Jamie Bell) is the film's main protagonist and narrator, who in the film's opening scene is on the cute writing a letter addressed to Dear Wendy (his pearl-handled revolver that he's romantically attached to). He's a sensitive pacifist, the son of a deceased dead miner in the poor coal town of Estherslope--a Brechtian type of burg that features a main street called Electric Park Square. Dick unites his fellow dense town misfits into a secret pacifist gun club of crazies called the Dandies, who pride themselves as superiors because they are pacifists who only use their weapons for target practice; they meet in an abandoned mine shaft they call the "temple," where they give their guns names, hold marriage services with their guns and always play the Zombies' music. The whole scene is an obvious laughable reaction by the filmmaker on the free world's claim to be "Pacifists with weapons." 

It all leads to a clumsily staged shoot-out for a climax, that looks as if it were staged as a Western for Dummies. 

This ridiculous, unrealistic story (which is a challenge itself to Dogme's manifesto for realism) spells out von Trier's, in particular, fantasies about America's foreign policy where every war is seen as an effort to further peace--which he says is an offshoot from America's love of guns, where the main characters declare a gun gives them confidence to look people straight in the eye. Von Trier points his shaky finger like a substitute teacher experiencing a bad hair day at America's false values, racism, warmongering, hypocrisy and corruptible system, as proof that everything that was just said is just the way it is even though von Trier has never been to America to check things out first-hand. It's more like a shrill diatribe than a movie, that misses its target by a country mile. The highlight is when a female member of the Dandies bares her breasts, which is about as pointless as the rest of the film.

REVIEWED ON 1/25/2007        GRADE: C-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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