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I May Destroy You
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Sometimes uncomfortable but for the right reasons and really well acted.
This was the first Lars Von Trier film I ever saw, and I was a teenager and did not yet feel like I could judge the cinema other people said was great. So, it was wrenching and sort of bizarre, and it contributed to my cinema education, but after two more Von Trier films I realized: you may make them beautifully but having an endless fetish for depicting the torture of demure and accepting women... meh. Once, okay. But over and over again? no thanks.
A tribute to love and misery from Lars von Trier.
Lars von Trier's romance drama Breaking the Waves (1996) is a depressing ode to the mentally ill and the tragically enamored. Trier's script gives a realistic sense of a woman in love with her husband no matter the cost. The tragedy of Breaking the Waves lies in her total devotion to her husband without the use of her own common sense.
Trier brilliantly uses his grounded script to give commentary on many themes concerning real life, such as love, faith, perversion, marriage, infidelity, death, compassion, cruelty, handicaps, dejection, and mental illness. All these ideas wash into the ocean of emotional turmoil that is Breaking the Waves.
Lars von Trier's direction is a fantastic example of the Dogme 95 style of filmmaking that Trier himself invented alongside Thomas Vinterberg. Trier's use of a handheld camera keeps you in the moment of each scene. All the interactions feel genuine and immersive. Trier follows his actors closely all while replicating a documentary style radiating a sense of realism. Thus, Breaking the Waves looks like the events are actually happening.
Furthermore, Breaking the Waves is mostly shot on location in Scotland, even though he had a few sets built for the film. All the props feel real that could be actually in these Scottish homes. Breaking the Waves features lovely natural lighting, genuine color, and in 35mm camera lens. I find Trier's use of a grainy filter fascinating as it makes you aware Breaking the Waves is an art film, but also gripping you with realistic appearance. Although, Trier uses a brisk 1970's rock soundtrack for title cards as chapter dividers, the remaining scenes only feature speaking without non-diegetic scoring. Lars von Trier really captures a riveting story of faith into miracles with a near magical realism for Breaking the Waves.
Breaking the Waves will either captivate or repulse for its brazen eroticism and explicit sexuality that blends zealous religious faith with complete nudity and open sexuality. I think this aspect makes Breaking the Waves feel more sincere and groundbreaking, but it may repel other viewers. Do give it a chance because the sexual encounters do have a point in Breaking the Waves.
I have to mention the magnificent Emily Watson as Bess McNeill. Her brave performance delivers stark dejection, saddening loneliness, fervent sexuality, devout faith, and shocking hysteria all in one outstanding role. Watson convinces you of her innocent purity with her affectionate eyes and tender body language. Her soft voice and incredible conversations with herself are enchanting and sorrowful. Watson never has to act again after such a sublime display of sympathetic acting in Breaking the Waves. Her female martyr drives a sense of naive fatalism that is countered by supporting cast, especially her chemistry with Katrin Cartlidge.
Speaking of whom, Katrin Cartlidge is mesmerizing as the mournful and protective Dodo McNeill. Her role as Bess' sister is affectionate and heartbreaking as much as Watson's. Cartlidge exudes a caring disposition hidden by a stern outer persona. She really impressed me with her considerate acting. Katrin is an exemplary actress.
Stellan Skarsgard gives a fabulous performance as Jan. His initial happy and kindly persona feel so genuine coming from the likable Skarsgard. This makes his dive into paralysis so hurtful and shocking. His acting near still and destroyed is astonishing in Breaking the Waves.
Likewise, Jean-Marc Barr's funny and friendly role as Terry is excellent. Adrian Rawlins displays a poignant affection for Bess as Dr. Richardson. Sandra Voe is devastating as Bess' cold mother. Lastly, Udo Kier makes a chilling cameo as a sadistic sailor with a haunting performance. I'm always pleased to see Kier in a great film.
Overall, Breaking the Waves is as emotionally harrowing and thematically challenging, but well worth the effort to watch it. Lars von Trier proves his directing prowess with Breaking the Waves by demonstrating engaging technical skill and displaying his cast's marvelous performances. Breaking the Waves will disturb, but not before holding your heart in Trier's clutches.
What there is to say? Chapters, nudity, sexuality, gloominess: a very Lars von Triery film! One of my favorite actually. I never like to say things about the plot, so I will just say that is definitely not so easy nor straightforward as the trailer made me think it was. Or at least, the plot is, but the moral complexity behind that is all another level. I also loved the VHS-kind-of view and the beautiful songs chosen.
It is curious to see how Lars von Trier uses a number of plot elements and devices that could be simply considered too hard to buy and more appropriate in a soap opera, and yet he manages to make everything so touching and genuinely devastating, with a powerful performance by Emily Watson.
Emily Watson delivers what has to be one of the most dedicated, emotionally immersive performances ever in (perhaps) Lars von Trier's most grounded work that deals intelligently with themes of love and faith.
Immensely intense and depressingly realistic drama investigating issues of compassion, love, faith and innocence; Emily Watson's performance is spectacular.
Breaking the Waves is a Drama about a wife’s unhealthy obsession of her husband leading her into a mental downward spiral. Like usual Lars perfectly directs the cast (except for the children), the cast give terrific performances, characters are fully 3-D and likable, the story is heartbreaking and uncomfortable, and his pretentious style (such as his moving cinematography and edit cuts) always gets in the way. Surprisingly there’s a new flaw. Each chapter of the story would linger on a scenery shot with a popular song playing in the background for a full minute. I don’t mind these chapter cards serving as small intermissions, but the song choices don’t seem to fit the style of the story. Would’ve worked better if it was just silence. Breaking The Waves is a great film, but no one of Lars’ best work. Not even one of my favorites. If you want to introduce Lars Von Trier’s films to someone, this is the film you want to start with before throwing them into his madness.
8 8 8 9 8 8 9 9 9 9 = 85
Father, why aren't you with me?
The deceased was suffering from being good.
Does true love really know no bounds? This question seems like the very springboard behind Lars von Trier's cold, controversial romance, Breaking the Waves.
The film features a timid, tender and tormented young girl (Emily Watson), brainwashed by a Calvinist cult but saved by her progressively obsessive love for a cool outsider (Stellan Skarsgard). Or so she thinks.
Watson is mesmerising as the malleable, comfort-seeking psychotic at the film's heart - a lost, psychologically-challenged soul who is manipulated as much by herself and her beliefs as she is by the people around her. This is a girl who, for her, talking to God is a literal two-way conversation between her doubts and fears, and hopes and dreams.
Her performance is breathtaking and her character is as challenging as it is chastising - we feel for her and fear her in equal measure as the film transitions from romance, through to tragedy, psychosexual chaos and jaded spirituality.
Using Watson's simple soul as a pure, human puppet, von Trier's taps into the very essence of love, hope and fear.