16-22 March 2009

March 29 2009 at 10:17 am (The list)

dancer_in_the_darkDancer in the Dark (2000)

In 1960s America, Czech single mother Selma (Björk) works two jobs to save money to pay for an operation that will save her son from a hereditary condition that is gradually robbing her of her sight. But Selma’s cop landlord (David Morse) who is falling into debt gets wind of her savings, he tries to rob her. Selma takes refuge from her life of hell by imagining herself in a Hollywood musical. Lars von Trier’s handheld camerawork almost gives a home movie feel, until the odd bit of percussion (coming from everyday sounds such as the chugging of a steam train and pencils tapping on paper) give way to big colourful song and dance numbers. The supporting cast is impeccable – Catherine Deneuve and Peter Stormare are pure warmth and compassion as Selma’s best friend and would-be boyfriend respectively, and David Morse, as ever, manages to turn an honest man into a bitter monster with a single expression. But it’s Björk who really impresses – Selma is fragile, childlike, but full of responsible maturity, the very model of grim determination wearing a winsome, innocent smile. If you can stomach 140 minutes of such bleakness, it will be an immensely rewarding experience – an outstanding performance in the centre of a patient and intimate masterpiece.

 

Rating: 5/5

 

Shame list total: 1,219

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