Many critics - mostly those in the cozy comfy confines of the continental USA - decry Lars von Trier as everything from a radical anti-American zealot to a pompous blowhard know-it-all. Many critics see only the shadow while struck blind by the figure of the film itself. First off, von Trier is not so much anti-American (although it is certainly hard not to be considering the current socio-ethical conundrum a certain pompous blowhard know-it-all from Texas has gotten us in to) as he is anti-totalitarianism. A visual poet more attuned to Whitman than Spielberg. An anti-establisment auteur. But enough of Mr. von Trier, for he is but the author here, it is Thomas Vinterberg - von Trier's Dogme cohort - who begs our attention as the director.
Staged with the pulchritude of a true Dogme 95 entrepreneur, Dear Wendy lays out the groundwork for what should be - and more oft than not is - artistically visualized manifesto against war in the name of peace (and back again we come to that damned Texan blowhard). Stylish - sometimes a bit too stylish for its own good - Dear Wendy dangles somewhere between Danish moralism and Peckinpah sensuality. Perhaps not a perfect film (nowhere close to the reprobative beauty that was Vinterberg's Festen (The Celebration) or, for that matter, any of von Trier's work) but far better than the thumbdrumming so many American critics recieved it as. [05/06/06]