The Element of Crime

1984 futurist noir

Rating: 14/20

Plot: Detective Fisher comes back to Europe after an extended stay in Egypt to help solve a series of murders. He meets with his old mentor and uses his book, The Element of Crime, to try to crack the case.

I'm really amazed that this is somebody first movie. Not that it's thoroughly enjoyable or even really all that coherent, at least after one viewing, but it's got the wankery of a seasoned veteran of movie directing. Influenced heavily by some of cinema's most daring farts, von Trier (a Nazi) still manages to make something completely unique. It's a visual thrill although the story's a bit of a clunker, all these weirdly-lit shots that look like they could have come from a 30s Carl Theodor Dreyer movie. This also recalls Alphaville a bit, a dreamier and more pretentious (if you can believe it) Godard sci-fi noir for your mind's stink eye. But after a while, my tired mind wandered pretty far away from the center of this one as I had trouble following what was going on exactly. The allure or novelty of the visual flavor of The Element of Crime wore off, and there just wasn't enough story or character to cling to. It's worth watching if you're into the artsy-fartsy scene, but this will likely frustrate anybody who's used to normal movies.

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