God bless Lars von Trier in all his erratic kookiness, for his bizarre tastes and boundary-pushing cinema.
That being said, The Boss of It All has to be the most ‘standard’ of von Trier’s films in a long while. Despite the fact he introduces the film, reflected in the glass of an office building, it fairly quickly settles into a comedy of errors. An actor (Jens Albinus) has been hired by Ravn (Peter Gantzler) to play the CEO of his company. Whilst Ravn is actually the boss, he’s never admitted as much to his staff, preferring to be their friend and attribute any tough and/or ruthless decisions to the unseen and mysterious ‘boss of it all’. The actor is required to play this role for a day despite knowing nothing whatsoever about the company or what it does.
It’s the kind of increasingly complicated comedy quite similar to Francis Veber’s work (The Dinner Game (Le Dîner de cons); The Closet (Le Placard)), and there are so many layers of lies built around the setup that soon even those in on the secret become increasingly confused. This could have quite easily have been a play, and it would have felt just like that if not for the quirky editing.
Apparently it’s called Automavision, and basically means von Trier surrenders control to a computer which decides on framing, angles, light and sound levels. It means that there are an astonishing number of cuts in the film, many disconcerting and frustrating as actors’ heads are periodically cut off and continuity is thrown out the window. The lack of continuity isn’t anything new for von Trier, who for a long time has favoured performance over visual continuity, but this technique really pushes one’s patience to the limit.
The entire cast do a wonderful job, Iben Hjejle recognisable from High Fidelity and the Dogme film Mifune (Mifunes sidste sang). Alas, the dialogue heavy script and bland surroundings do make the film a little tiresome. Though I giggled regularly I was wishing the darn thing would finish. Also I was a little disappointed with the Automavision (which is credited as the cinematographer), expecting something a little more striking than badly framed shots.
Von Trier’s fans will find this a must-see, but ultimately it’s a minor work from a brilliant filmmaker.Rating: