Dancer in the Dark - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Dancer in the Dark Reviews

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September 21, 2016
Extremely powerful , full of drama , excellent photography. Tears inevitably come out .
September 11, 2016
la peli mas deprimente que he visto hasta ahora ;(
August 23, 2016
Amazing movie. Great acting, great music, great story, very depressing and very moody. Classic Lars Von Trier
½ August 17, 2016
Björk's performance was heartbreaking, she was incredible. And the story was just so sad but done very well. Lars Von Trier knows how to make people feel things, and this isn't the exception.
~August 16, 2016~
June 3, 2016
Hermosa pero internamente aterradora, con una visión sonora bastante única y energética de parte de Björk, Bailarina en la oscuridad es una destacable película que quizá será dificil de verla una segunda vez.
May 9, 2016
Completely soaked in raw and powerful emotion. This movie is as beautiful as it is difficult to watch without having your heart ripped out of your chest. Dark, Grim, Depressing and Powerful. This is a movie that you really need to see at least once just for the reaction from your system. Amazing soundtrack that is tastefully placed throughout. Enjoy.
April 29, 2016
Very depressing and the ending is totally uncalled for, but the musical numbers and Björk's heartfelt performance make this a movie I wouldn't watch again but makes an overall great film. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who likes Björk because the soundtrack is full of Björk style songs with a bit of a musical theatre spin.
April 7, 2016
Saw this on 7/4/16
Bjork gives an extremely moving performance, but one might wish that it would have been far far better had this not been a musical. The film fails to connect a lot because of these unwanted musical numbers even if the lead character justifies them. However, the film becomes compellingly engaging and heart wrenching towards the end, thanks much to Von Trier's craft and Bjork's performance.
March 15, 2016
This one frustrates me because I really want to like it, but I just don't that much. I've never been a fan of Lars von Trier's directing style, there's this "home video" quality to this film and that's what I feel like I'm watching sometimes. The random jump cuts in the middle of dialogue scenes take a lot of emotional weight out of what the characters are saying, and it's just flat-out annoying. Also, Bjork's character makes some absolute dipshit decisions toward the end and they felt almost inhuman, therefore making the ending ridiculously, overtly sad. I did like her weird, dark, electronic music scenes which is surprising as musicals are not my forte, but they made the film interesting.
½ February 14, 2016
It's so compelling and sad, Bjork is a phenomenal actress. She IS Selma.
January 10, 2016
Dancer In The Dark is a seriously weird film. Starting off with a lot of promise, with its raw, documentary-like feel and sensitive performance from Björk, the movie quickly shows it true colours, literally and figuratively, and what follows is 2+ hours of crushing tedium, bland dialogue and maudlin monotony. It appears that it's only way to move its audience is to be as unashamedly downtrodden and bleak as possible, with no space for levity or light relief, and as a result is simply depressingly. Several parts are entirely predicated on characters being curiously incapable of providing basic explanations, and often logic and common sense are cast aside completely. I liked very few parts of it, was bored by most, and outright hated others. I will commend it on being unique however, in that I've never previously witnessed spontaneous musical numbers popping up in a film about a soft-spoken Czechoslovakian immigrant with a heredity eye condition. There's a first time for everything I guess.
January 7, 2016
The film fades from black and opens like eyesight coming into focus for the first time. As fine art continues to fade in and out, a motif evocative of bursted capillaries takes over. This is Dancer in the Dark, a film by Lars Von Trier about Selma, a foreign immigrant woman in 1960s Washington State who loves movie musicals but is slowly going blind. The film is a musical itself, but a very unconventional one. It's not the glamorous romp that Selma sees on the big screen. Instead, it's a rough around the edges look at escapism and perceived Americana that showcases the contrast of how we use sight, sound and imagination to get through our everyday lives.

Most of the movie looks more like a documentary, very much like real life. It's so unpolished that it seems like improv, like everything is being made up on the fly or that the camera is just capturing these real, personal events. Of course as the story continues you know that everything is indeed planned and once you get to the first musical number, which doesn't happen until nearly 40 minutes in, everything is actually specifically choreographed. While these real life moments were filmed with what seems to be a single handheld camera, the musical moments become dreamlike and are shot with over 100 digital cameras placed around the location to catch every move from every angle. This footage was then edited to give a sense of stability within Selma's mind, standing out from her otherwise rocky life. It's quite ingenious.

The cast is filled with actors' actors that each bring truth to their characters no matter how big or small the role is. Veteran actress Catherine Denueve is abrasive but supportive as Selma's friend and coworker, Peter Stormare is sympathetic as a man after Selma's affection and David Morse really pushes the film to new points as Selma's neighbor and landlord. Cara Seymour, Siobhan Fallon, Udo Kier, Stellan Skarsgård, Vladica Kostic and Joel Grey are all also in smaller roles, though still as equally important to the film. Icelandic singer Björk, who has a limited experience with acting, stars as Selma herself and brings veracity, sincerity and an incredibly raw experience to the character.

Selma struggles between being a woman of her word, holding her ground and simultaneously feeling helpless. She's dealing with her own personal burdens, being a single mother trying to give her son a future he can see, and the burdens given to her by others, being a friend in a position where she doesn't have much of a choice to make. Many might question why Selma doesn't take the easy road through her situation, but that's just the point. She is so innocent and her moral convictions are so strong that she never even feels the need to. It might seem like an unrealistic decision to make, but it's only as unrealistic as any other movie musical, just in the opposite direction.

Dancer in the Dark completes Von Trier's Golden Hearts Trilogy of films in which the heroine remains naïve despite her experiences. It should also be noted that the Danish director's view of vintage America is a view from afar as the director has very rarely if ever even been to America and the film was shot in Denmark. The portrayal here of small town American living and the American justice system are skewed and exaggerated, a bit simple but still unsurprising. It's a heartbreaking and unsettling film that you will assuredly not clap for at the end, as you might a usual musical, despite whether you appreciate it or not.
December 30, 2015
One of the saddest films I've ever watched. Fantastic performance by Bjork. Only downside is none of the songs, aside from the last one which is absolutely heartbreaking, are particularly memorable.
½ December 29, 2015
Couldn't finish it. Too depressing. What is it with this director anyway? Does he like being depressed? And I thought Melancholia was bad.
Super Reviewer
½ November 6, 2015
Björk is magnificent in a very demanding performance, acting and singing in this grim and devastating musical tragedy that can be really difficult for some people to watch, but no one can deny that it is incredibly thought-provoking and emotionally compelling.
½ October 28, 2015
Who said musicals should have a happy endings. Give it to Bjork to make the saddest most grooming musicals ever.

Great performance, hope she would repeat it again.
September 6, 2015
An unconventional musical with an excellent performance from Bjork. It's probably the least depressing Lars Von Trier movie I've seen but it still has some dark moments. The musical numbers especially I've Seen It All are well written and crafted plus a great cameo from Joel Grey in the court room song. I wasn't a big fan of the way it was shot, I think it would have benefited from being shot in the traditional way rather than the way they ended up going with. But still, it is a very interesting movie with a great breakout performance
½ August 29, 2015
My heart broke into three hundred different pieces while my mind was watching in awe. This is exactly how I felt after I finished Dancer in the Dark (2000).

I can most definitely assure you that the twisted mind of Mr. Lars von Trier has no boundaries when it comes to cinematic genius. Written and Directed by von Trier himself, the film creates a genre of its own playing with both musical and drama along the way. I remember once reading an article somewhere on von Trier and how he expressed his desire to experiment with all the cinematic genres that ever existed... and, oh boy, he is doing it, and he is doing it in his own way. Breaking the Waves (1996) is an unconventional romance that taps on theology. Antichrist (2009) is horror manifested in psychological gore. Melancholia (2011) is a very narcissistic end-of-the-world sci-fi. Nymphomaniac (2013) is porn! There is no wonder then when he tries his hand at musicals.

What I am getting at is that watching a von Trier film is similar to eating pickles dipped in ice cream, the only difference is that von Trier's dish actually tastes sublime. He knows how to convince you that pickles are not that salty and ice cream is not that sweet. You realize the discrepancy and the cruel irony only after you have eaten and enjoyed the meal. Proof? Try watching Dancer in The Dark a second time and compare it to any mainstream musical. What you will find is the most basic musical instruments, the dancing that does not even sync with the music, the abrupt shifts, the crude editing, the self-referential camera angles, and exaggerated sentimentality. Funny thing is that despite everything, you still enjoy the story and empathize with the characters wholeheartedly. The canny Dane not only experiments with the genre, he actually destroys it.. mocks it, and in the process, he mocks us as well.

Although the film cannot be called a Dogme film, it certainly owes a lot of its stylistic choices to the Dogme rules, which does not strike me as a surprise since the late 1990s was high time for Dogme productions. Personally speaking, there are a lot of things I admire about Dogme films, one of them is the almost always brilliant casting. The cast of Dancer in the Dark seems to be from everywhere around the globe... Icelandic, Danish, French, American, English, German... etc. However, they fit in together harmoniously and not a single actor seems out of place. Despite the hostile tension between her and von Trier during filming, Bjork's performance turns to be a real knockout. I don't know whether she was perfect for the role or vice versa, all I can imagine is von Trier thinking of Bjork and then tailor-writing the role for her. No one, I really mean NO ONE, could have played the helpless blind Selma Jezkova as Bjork did.

You might have noticed that I did not give a synopsis of the story. With von Trier's I would rather not to. Just be prepared to watch a musical like no other.. a musical where crimes are committed, innocence is murdered and dreams are crushed.

Enjoy it. Break your heart. Then laugh at yourself.
½ August 9, 2015
Almost cried. Great stuff. Bkork is amazing in this. Just great. gripping and emotional storm. Lars von Trier is great too. Dogville was amaze too
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