THE BOSS OF IT ALL (Lars von Trier). 94 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Thursday (July 12) at the Royal. Rating: NN
Lars von Trier's first comedy - so described in its own publicity - suffers from the fact that for most of its 94 minutes it's not terribly funny.
In the midst of negotiations to sell his company, Ravn (Peter Gantzler), who has never admitted to owning the company, hires an out-of-work actor (Jens Albinus) to play "the boss of it all" in the negotiations and, unexpectedly, with the employees.
These relationships all become part of an ongoing corporate psychodrama that puzzles the new "boss" because, as an actor, he doesn't believe in improvisation. Or, apparently, research. So for much of the first part of the film, Albinus sits staring blankly at his "employees," unable to fake answers about the business. I'm guessing that von Trier, who runs a production company, thinks this is funny.
The cast is solid, and most of them have associations with the Dogme movement the director founded, notably Albinus, who starred in von Trier's Idiots, and Iben Hjejle, who starred in Mifune and is best known here for High Fidelity.
Von Trier is such a technically proficient director that he occasionally acts as if technique means nothing, and this is one of those times. The whole film was shot on video, and the framing is exceedingly peculiar, focusing on vast stretches of empty space over the actors' heads or leaving them half out of the shot. Maybe von Trier is amused by this.
It's as if he wanted to rip off The Office but didn't get the jokes.