The Boss of It All Lars von Trier

The Boss of It All Lars von Trier
Earnest Danish director Lars Von Trier is known for serious, analytical and often depressing work like Breaking the Waves and Dancer in the Dark, so it’s with some trepidation that one approaches this light-hearted corporate comedy.

The Boss of It All concerns an IT company whose owner, Ravn (Peter Gantzler), has been lying to his employees, claiming to be just another worker himself who answers to a mysterious "boss of it all,” on whom he places blame for unpopular decisions. When it comes time to sell to a grumpy Icelander, he hires a self-absorbed actor (Jens Albinus) to portray said boss and take the heat for years of mismanagement and corporate shenanigans.

Yet The Boss of It All is not divorced from Von Trier’s self-absorbed touches — he introduces the film through his own reflection in an office building window, perched on a camera crane, as he narrates that this piece of genre fluff is presented as a piffle, to be forgotten the moment its audience leaves the theatre. At a couple more points in the narrative, he interjects again, pointing out the introduction of new characters or calling attention to the film’s familiar tropes. It’s as if Von Trier, anticipating criticism for this romp, wants to undercut it even as it plays out by denying that he’s taking any of this seriously. He does get a few digs in with his script; the "boss of it all” actor is obsessed with a (seemingly fictional) dramatist named Gambini, and spouts pretentious crap like: "The character is my law; the script is my courtroom.”

But despite (or perhaps due to) his pretensions, Von Trier is hardly on the comedic cutting edge; his mistaken identity premise has DNA roots in the most mainstream of American comedies (supposedly anathema to Von Trier’s arty sensibilities): Three’s Company, Kevin Kline’s 1993 presidential switcheroo Dave and even the Robin Williams vehicle Man of the Year.

The long-standing antagonism between Danes and Icelanders is played for laughs, one supposes, for a Danish audience but for North Americans, the biggest delight might be in seeing High Fidelity cutie Iben Hjejle, who hasn’t been seen on these shores since. (Seville)