The finale of what enfant terrible and self-professed genius Lars von Trier calls his “Golden Hearts Trilogy”, Dancer in the Dark is that rare movie that manages to enthrall and repel in equal measures. A revisionist musical like perhaps no other, the movie received both flak and adulation from its deeply polarized viewers when it was released. I can understand what prompted the former group to passionately throw brickbats at it, but there’s no denying the movie’s raw, heartbreaking emotional power. It is about a frail, working-class Czech émigré Selma (brought to life thanks to an astonishing performance by Bjork) who is saving money to help prevent her son from having her fate – that of slowly going blind – until a debilitating tragedy shatters all her plans and dreams. In a brilliant cinematic maneuver by Trier, Selma, in order to escape her glum existence, often resorts to musical dream sequences; the dull, near-claustrophobic “real” events have been marvelously juxtaposed with vibrant, saturated colours in the “dream” ones. The long-drawn climax might seem brutal and even sadistic to many; however, terrific performances by the wonderfully chosen cast (especially Catherine Deneuve), the surprisingly gripping narrative, and the undeniably innovative filmmaking technique employed by Triar (of combining a musical with a drama), made watching this grim, disturbing movie an absolutely memorable, and in a way, liberating viewing experience for me.
Director: Lars von Trier Genre: Drama/Musical/Avante-Garde Language: English Country: Denmark