Bryce Dallas Howard, Danny Glover, Willem Dafoe, Isaach De Bankole, Udo Kier

Directed by Lars Von Trier
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 2.5
Community: star rating
5 2.5 0
January 23, 2006

Danish filmmaker Lars von rier (Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark) rubs a lot of people he wrong way, including his audiences and his actors. Nicole Kidman, who starred in von Trier's controversial Dogville in 2003, chose not to return for Manderlay — the second film in his planned trilogy. For on Trier, who fears flying and has never visited the U.S., the opportunity afforded by the trilogy is to reveal the flaws in American democracy. Bryce Dallas Howard, Ron Howard's daughter — she starred in The Village — steps in for Kidman as Grace, the gangster's daughter who teaches moral lessons in the George Bush manner: If you don't listen, she retaliates with violence. Like Dogville, Manderlay is set in Depression-era America, which von Trier filmed on a Copenhagen soundstage, bare except for lines drawn on the floor and a few props.

Grace has left Colorado for Alabama, where she finds a plantation, Manderlay, run by Mam (Lauren Bacall)'s if slavery had never been outlawed. Grace sets out to restore freedom, despite warnings from house slave Wilhelm (Danny Glover) to go easy on her reforms. Now it's the whites (in blackface, yet) serving the slaves, who control the production and sale of cotton. It's tough going, especially when dust storm hits, starvation threatens and Grace's dad (Willem Dafoe, in he role created by James Caan) returns with new options. Howard struggles with the role Kidman nailed. And the graphic nude scene in which "proudy lave" Timothy (Isaach De Bankole) puts a towel over Grace's head before lavishing her pale body is as rugged on the audience as it is on the actors. on Trier's hand isn't as sure in Manderlay as it was in Dogville. His film exasperates and illuminates in equal measure. But o film addict will want to miss his cinematic brilliance.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “American Girl”

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

    It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

    More Song Stories entries »