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The Boss of It All
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The owner of an IT firm wants to sell up. The trouble is that when he started his firm he invented a nonexistent company president to hide behind when unpopular steps needed taking. When potential purchasers insist on negotiating with the "Boss" face to face the owner has to take on a failed actor to play the part. The actor suddenly discovers he is a pawn in a game that goes on to sorely test his (lack of) moral fiber.
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When I ordered it from the library, I asked for "The Boss of it All" but it shows up as "Direktoren for det hele" in IMDb and on other lists, so take your pick...
In a nutshell, a fellow with a Danish information technology company hires an actor to pretend to be the chronically absent president of the company just long enough to grant him power of attorney. That way he can sell the company to a hostile man from Iceland (who hates the Danes for 400 years of servitude!). The poor actor hasn't been very successful lately, so is desperate enough to give it a try. He's a little unsure of the ad lib aspect of the job, but agrees to do it.
When he attends his first meeting, one of the employees slugs him and things go downhill from there. One of the women says she can see through his disguise. He thinks his pretence has been uncovered but instead she says she knows he has been trying to hide his homosexuality in his e-mails and is prepared to show him how she can help him get over it. This is Scandinavian cinema, so naturally, he allows himself to be "shown."
He is very concerned about his lines and his timing, while the employees are very concerned about their JOBS! He becomes better acquainted with them and the situation... but then another character makes an entrance...
Suffice it to say, this is very, very dry humor, and the extras, which include a mockumentary, are hilarious...but only if you like exceedingly dry humor. I got my DVD from Amazon.
"You're right, but I'm better at being irritating on an intuitive level."
With his often unlikely plotting, emphasis on stripped-down style over structure and fascination with stripping away the suspension of disbelief of most films to highlight their artificiality, it's fair to say that Lars Von Trier isn't to everyone's taste. After films like Breaking the Waves and Dancer in the Dark he also seems an unlikely candidate to try his hand at a comedy, but the mischievous sense of humour that's run through his work since the TV series The Kingdom finds a perfect outlet in The Boss of it All. The plot might seem almost as if it could do service as a mainstream Hollywood comedy, but in many ways it's the perfect match of premise and filmmaker.
Gambini-obsessed bad actor Kristoffer (Jens Albnus) is hired by Ravn (Peter Gantzler) to pretend to be the boss of the company he's planning to sell. Ravn has been the real boss of the company for years, but is so desperate to be liked by his staff that the only way he can pass on bad news is by blaming it all on an invisible owner in America. Despite the fact that at first Kristoffer reads far more into the text than there is ("It says far more than it says" he notes of his underwritten part: "I had hoped it would say as little as possible," replies the whiz-at-contracts Ravn), unfortunately, Ravn's so desperate not to be disliked that he doesn't fill Kristoffer in on the full script, expecting the hapless actor to improvise his way through a minefield of imaginary relationships the staff have created with him over the years. Finding himself alternately seduced, punched or engaged to them at various times, he soon discovers that the real boss of it all is a much better actor than he is...
The stage is set for a playful examination of the way people's vanity inevitably finds them playacting both at work and in their personal relationships in their desperation to either fit in or at least have an easy life, allowing Von Trier plenty of opportunities to take swipes at acting in general (and in Denmark in particular) as well as the vagaries of business politics. What's surprising is how funny much of it is, from Kristoffer's obsession with getting to the `truth' of his character (complete with dramatic pauses and would-be burning looks that just confuse people) to the obnoxious saga-obsessed Icelandic tycoon who wants to settle 400 years of national humiliation by humiliating the Danish company. And running through it all is a sly commentary on moviemaking and the power struggle between actor and director (the Danish title is Direktøren for det Hele). Of course, humour is a personal thing, and it may be funnier if you've worked in that kind of office environment or know enough self-obsessed actors to recognise the absurdity, and for some Von Trier's interruptions to comment on the film or his use of computer-chosen camera angles that don't always capture the action and give some of the film a disjointed feel will take them out of the film or simply irritate. But if you're on the right wavelength, there's a lot of fun to be had with The Boss of It All.