Monday, September 08, 2008

The List: Breaking the Waves
(dir. Lars von Trier, 1996)

"And now for something completely different..."

(yes I DID actually watch this on the same day as the last two... I broke it up into a few separate sittings)

Hmm. I'd actually never seen this before, despite being a die-hard fan of Dancer in the Dark. And may I say, the similarities are uncanny. Not just in filmmaking style, but in the actresses' perfs as well. It seems many of Selma's mannerisms I assumed to be "Björkisms" are actually "Von-Trier-isms" that he seeks out/encourages in his women. You know... the wide-eyed innocence, the not-all-there-ness, the awkward speech patterns. Emily Watson's got that shit down (it's kinda scary).

Anyway... other impressions...

Stellan Skarsgård was quite the dish when he was younger. It's weird to see Mamma Mia first and then go back in time to THIS (rawr). Also, I loved how Bess "talked to God". Exceedingly creepy and "out there", but it totally rang true (I won't spoil the specifics for those who haven't seen it). I do feel the film went a bit off the rails in the last third - that hooker getup! - but with a Von Trier film, that might be a compliment, I'm not really sure.

All in all, though, this seems more like a warmup for Dancer than anything else (at least in retrospect). All the distinctive techniques and elements here seemed more fully realized and effective in that later film. Same weirdly angelic heroine, same practical but loving best friend/sister figure, same martyr complex... if you're a Dancer fan, you'll want to check this out. And even if you're not, you should still see it. Watson and Skarsgard are both fantastic, and Von Trier is out in full force. Essential viewing.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Kamikaze Camel said...

Well, Breaking the Waves and Dancer in the Dark are two films from Von Trier's "Golden Heart Trilogy", which all deal with naive but kind-hearted women who face adversity. The other film, the second after Waves, was Idioterne (The Idiots).

9:05 AM  
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