December 31, 2004
The Five Obstructions is the most twisted love letter to a friend that I have ever seen. At first I was puzzled at why Jorgen Leth would submit to such an exercise, and at what a self-important blowhard Lars von Trier is, but by the end I was quite touched that von Trier had organized this whole sadomasochistic experiment for his friend’s sake. And a bit disturbed that I was touched by it. But touched nonetheless. I can only wonder what von Trier’s relationships with women are like. He probably has a few chained up in his basement.
The film is certainly quite in line with the rest of von Trier’s films, which always feature a tortured and martyred masochistic woman. As von Trier himself says at the end of the film, “It is the attacker who reveals himself.” Just as Jorgen ultimately made his kind of film over and over again in The Five Obstructions despite von Trier’s efforts to obstruct him, von Trier himself continues to visit the same themes, essentially making the same film over and over again. Only in this film, he doesn’t quite break his subject.