Tuesday, June 15, 2010

#162 Dancer in the Dark (2000)


Director: Lars Von Trier

Cast: Bjork, Catherine Deneuve, David Morse, Peter Stormare, Joel Grey, Cara Seymour, Vladica Kostic, Jean-Marc Barr

Bjork plays Selma, a Czech immigrant mother working in an American basin factory-- secretly hoarding away money to pay for an operation for her son's eyes. Selma is going blind, but she doesn't want anyone to know. Her friend helps her at the factory, explains what happens in the movies when they go, and she walks along the railroad tracks to get home from her job at night. Her son is destined to the same fate unless she gathers enough money-- and she is so close to doing so.

Finally, she confides her secrets to her landlord and friend who has a secret of his own: he is broke, and he can't tell his spending-happy wife. Stealing the money from Selma, he forces her to kill him to get the money back. A trial, more lies, uplifting moments, and capsizing hope.

The film is a musical, full of self-aware interludes of Bjork performances. The film gains almost a technicolor brightness in fantasy-- the only world where Selma can find refuge from the physical and emotional darkness of her life. The story was so suspenseful that when a song came, I nearly crawled out of my skin with impatience to get back to the film's reality. I wept through the last 45 minutes of the film, quite inconsolably.

Although low budget, shaky, sometimes frustrating, and sometimes even TOO MUCH-- the film moved me in a big way. Not just through story but through artistry as well.

I found it to be brilliant.

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