Denmark’s Lars von Trier is contemporary cinema’s imp of the perverse. Inspired by Pirandello and Brecht, his Direktøren for det hele takes aim at theatrical acting and big business. By targeting each through the other, this dazzlingly clever comedy suggests that capitalism is a charade, a soulless, convoluted performance.
Ravn owns and runs an information technology firm in Copenhagen. His employees, however, do not know this; Ravn has misled them into believing that “their boss,” the fiction behind which he hides the better to exploit them and draw loyalty, is based in the U.S. Now that he wishes to sell the company, Ravn has hired an actor to be the presumed “boss of it all.”
A flop in his chosen field, Kristoffer takes this role very seriously. Whereas Ravn simply wants Kristoffer-as-Svend to sign the sales agreement, Kristoffer wants to assume his role from the inside out. He does his best to glean bits of information about Svend from employees (one of these bits is that Svend is gay) and enrages the Icelandic company president with his presumptuous antics during their negotiations. The discrepancy between the Icelandic president’s tantrums and the translator’s calm shows that Trier knows his Chaplin, in particular, The Great Dictator (1940). Indeed, Trier’s boardroom scenes are maniacally funny.
Poor Lars must have suffered thusly himself, dealing with actors who aren’t content with being his pawns and who pushed to have their roles take over his plans! On the other hand, Trier finds outrageous Ravn’s lies, deceptions, schemes.
Utilizing a computerized camera process called Automavision, Trier creates a rapid series of cuts and the appearance of suddenly changed camera distances and angles; simulated jump-cuts are accompanied by uninterrupted dialogue, snapping us to analytical attention and increasing our delight.
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