Danish director Lars Von Trier‘s 2006 film, The Boss Of It All is something a little different from the provocative filmmaker: it’s a comedy.
Ravn, owner of a successful IT firms, wants to sell up and move on. There’s just one slight problem. For the past several years he has been telling everyone that ‘the boss of it all’ was overseeing the business from the United States, when in reality he was too afraid to be seen calling the shots. Now the business is about to be sold, and the prospective buyer wants to meet the owner so that they can do business face to face. With no owner existing Ravn must hire an unemployed actor to portray his fictitious boss. However, he must not only fool the new buyer but also his staff, who can’t believe that their ‘boss’ has arrived for a visit after being away for so long.
If you watch The Boss of It All expecting to see a standard comedy, then you are going to be sorely disappointed. With its stark cinematography and low-key acting, this is more of a workplace drama than a comedy. That’s not to say there isn’t humour; the film takes pot shots at the corporate system, company policies and the amount of jargon that is used in the work place. Von Trier also makes the interesting point that you can work for a huge company and receive emails from somebody on a daily basis and come to believe that you know them personally, even if they don’t exist!
The actors do a fine job of portraying their confused and unhappy characters, performances that are helped because they are placed in a steely blue office with few exterior shots to open the film up. Jens Albinus plays Kristoffer, the actor portraying Svend – ‘the boss of it all’. Albinus delivers a nuanced performance, hovering on just the right side of insane whilst making the audience empathise with his situation. Peter Gantzler, the real boss of it all, Ravn, makes his character not only the type of boss that you’d love to have, but also one that you’d hate as soon as he arrived in the office – he’s very much influenced by the American ‘hug it out’ style of management. Gantzler’s performance is also one that gets the viewer onside, but as the film develops you begin to turn on him, and question his moral values.
The Boss of It All was shot using a technique called “Automavision”, a technology that allows a computer to choose many of the angles and focuses for the camera, this technique gives the film a dream like quality that helps to make Lars Von Trier‘s film something more than the ‘harmless comedy’ he bills it as.
The Boss of It All is not a comedy in the broad sense of the word. If you are expecting laugh out loud gags and slapstick, then this isn’t the film for you.