The Boss of It All

un film de Lars von Trier

When one calls Lars von Trier's latest a light-hearted comedic toss-away, a trifling even (which von Trier himself calls it in his introductory monologue), one is creating quite the misnomer, for even though the film is mired in the haphazard genre of comedy, light-hearted and trifling it most certainly is not. Taking a side-step away from his "America Trilogy" (first the masterpiece Dogville, then the disappointing Manderlay and finally the hopeful upcoming Washington), von Trier gives us a comedy which is still fully repleat with the usual acerbic brand of wit and moral outlook (read: grim as a Dreyer heroine) on life and society that one comes to expect from the oeuvre that owes its existence to Lars von Trier. Sort of imagine a screwball comedy of the 1930's made in the jaded world of today with enough sanctimonious rhetoric (and I mean that in the most enthusiastic way) to make kierkegaard blush his hump right of.

The Boss of It All, the tale of one man's attempt to fool potential buyers of his company (and his own colleagues) into believing a hired actor is really the boss of it all, is anything but an insignificant between-gigs goof off. Brilliantly acidic and mocking the very foundations of the genre, while simultaneously adhering to those very same said foundations, von Trier's film is extremely well-rounded and shows throughout the moral signifigance, or lack thereof, of greed, loyalty, lust, passion and the desire to be loved. Posing questions not usually posed in comedy, von Trier's film is certainly nothing to be sneezed at - no matter what the auteur himself may say at the reverse psychological ego-stroking outset.

The film stars Jens Albinus (an alum of von Trier's original Dogme-sanctioned The Idiots) as the titular title character, in a role that he not only makes his proverbial own but also makes wild passionate monkey love to and even gets it to buy him breakfast the next morning before sending it home in a cab, still wanting more. With this title romp, Albinus, along with his director, unleash a sermonic amalgamation of quick-witted office humour, upstaging anything this side of "The Office", an avant-sensibility just queer enough to seem refreshing and enough moral and philosophical conundrumming to give both Ibsen and Hans Christian Andersen a pair of perplexing posthumous hard-ons. Add to that the aforementioned lead performance that is able to bay at the freakin' moon and have the moon bend over and present itself like a seven tequila sunrisen blonde at a bowling alley barroom, and you have yourself one hell of a "trifling" comedy.

All-in-all, von Trier's film, although rather a seemingly ideological departure at first glance - and granted the emotional heft of films such as Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark or the aforementioned Dogville is not there no matter how formidable and/or unique this film may actually be deep down on the inside - is such the breath of fresh air in such a state of intellectually and environmentally unsound times as these, where farting and shitting and Nascar and knocking off casinos with all your preening and prancing celebrity buddies is the norm of comedy, that one really has no idea how to take this film - existential comedy or morality tale or perhaps even one hell of a funny melodrama. Never taking a backseat to the sociopolitical climate of von Trier's filmmaking past (or future), The Boss of It All is at worst, von Trier's funniest film (sort of a low threshold I know), and at best, his most poignant and glorious experimentation in genre filmmaking in many a year.

And yes, The Boss of It All is indeed experimental, even in its self-proclaimed frivolity - and we can assuredly toss off anything the oft-conniving von Trier tries to tell us in explanation or excuse or what have you - and in his never-ending search for the latest and greatest way to shove it up the ass of cinema, von Trier has turned, tongue firmly in cheek, to the Automavision, a computer program designed to randomly change camera angles and speeds and overall make the film look haphazard and downright (and I say this with all due respect) shitty in its creation. In doing so, von Trier has successfully transmogrified the editing process into a game of darts seemingly being played by a couple of spasmodic baboons with delusions of Godard. As explanation, Automavision, the latest portent from the mind that created the didactic Dogme style of filmmaking a decade or so ago, is described in the press notes as "a principle for shooting film developed with the intention of limiting human influence by inviting chance in from the cold." Perhaps this is von Trier's way of telling us that someday machines will do everything for us, from washing our clothes to cooking our meals to building our skyscrapers to driving our cars to making our movies to running our countries to jerking us off - which is exactly what von Trier has probably been doing to us the whole damn time anyway. [06/17/07]