The Boss of It All

Review by Alan Mack

Directed by

Lars von Trier

Starring

Fridrik Thor Fridriksson Jens Albinus Peter Gantzler

Anticipation.

The guy doesn’t make movies; he makes statements.

Enjoyment.

Light, frothy and bitingly funny with a pleasingly dark underside.

In Retrospect.

A throwaway comic dalliance with hidden depths.

Lars von Trier’s latest is light, frothy and bitingly funny with a pleasingly dark underside.

So, who is the boss of it all? Lars von Trier, that’s who. Taking a brief sojourn from the brilliant, austerely staged guilt-trips of Dogville and Manderlay, the great Dane has decided to produce a riotous comedy quickie in the mould of The Office, which reveals an endearing, even playful side to the habitually subversive director.

The owner of a small IT firm, Ravn (Peter Gantzler), thinks it’s high time to sell up and move on. The trouble is, when he started his company he invented a fictional patsy he called ‘The Boss of it All’ upon whom he could lay the blame for any unpopular decisions. When an Icelandic firm decide to buy Ravn out, they also insist on negotiating with the ‘Boss’ face-to-face. He then has to employ a failed actor (the excellent Jens Albinus) to play the part.

The film sails on a clutch of broad, improvised comic performances and an unabashedly screwball set-up, and we watch through metaphorically clenched fingers as the idiotic and pompous Albinus creeps ever closer to that big, final boardroom meeting.

It’s filmed in what von Trier has coined ‘Automavision’, which is, as he has described it, “a principle for shooting film developed with the intention of limiting human influence by inviting chance in from the cold”. It’s basically a technique (of sorts) in which certain elements of the camera are controlled by a computer, and although it adds nothing to the movie, it’s symbolic of the director’s cynical attitude towards the established order of filmmaking, and how technology too often takes precedence over actors and story

But beyond all the office-based tomfoolery lies a deadly serious meditation on the responsibilities of a director, the nature of performance and the transference (and subsequent instinctive subjectification) of ideas from one mind to another. Take that, Ricky Gervais.

Published 28 Feb 2008

Anticipation.

The guy doesn’t make movies; he makes statements.

Enjoyment.

Light, frothy and bitingly funny with a pleasingly dark underside.

In Retrospect.

A throwaway comic dalliance with hidden depths.

Read More

Manderlay

By David Jenkins

Lars von Trier’s latest is an exercise in claustrophobic filmmaking, rife with symbolism and an unstoppable momentum.

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Antichrist confirms Lars von Trier as the mad master-imp of world cinema.

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Lars von Trier’s two-part psychosexual epic makes for invigorating, profound and occasionally baffling viewing.

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