Believe it or not, I have never seen a Lars von Trier film. I’ve obviously heard a lot about him, but I just never really found him all that accessible to me; his films seemed like distant planets, ones that may have taken light-years to get to, and that I hadn’t quite committed to making such a journey for the sake of getting there. Well, thanks to the list, I managed to eke my way through one, if only barely. That’s not to say Breaking the Waves is a bad film, only that I probably shouldn’t have started my exodus into the von Trier desert with this one.
The film is inspired by the ideals of the Dogme95 movement, but takes some liberties with the rules. If not for the music (which did seem rather out of place for me), the occasional studio sets, and some CGI shots, this easily could’ve passed for a Dogme film. Handheld and grainy cinematography, with muted real-life colors and a firm foothold in reality make this a difficult film to wade through, as there is very little of the escapism factor that usually makes a film entertaining, but if that’s the sort of moviegoing mood you find yourself in, you might be better inclined to give this a shot. The storyline is also very realistic, and it may be thanks to this ultra-realism that I was able to be affected by the various things that happened in the film much more than had the film been more Hollywood-style fiction, so to that end the film does work. But just because it worked doesn’t mean it was particularly easy to get through, at least for my first sitting. The one thing I did enjoy a great deal was Emily Watson’s performance, and I was glad to see she was nominated for Best Actress for this; she was very commanding the whole time through.
This was another one that, aside from the strength of the main performance, I didn’t get why I had to see this before I died. As much as I tried to not hold it against this film, I had to muddle my way through it a piece at a time, which to me told me that it was very uninteresting as a whole. As I mentioned, I was affected a lot by it, but it didn’t hold my attention very well. As this is essentially a Dogme film in spirit if not in practice, much of what I said about Festen applies to this film as well. If Festen rubbed you the right way, this will be another film that will be right up your alley. It’s a lot longer than Festen, though, or even von Trier’s Idioterne, which I have yet to get to, so if this isn’t your sort of thing, there’s unfortunately a lot of it to get through. Still, at the very least, I can hope that you’ll be as affected as I was from this; that’s the main thing I took away from the experience.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10