Saturday, April 4, 2015

Breaking the Waves

Movie Name: Breaking the Waves
Year of Release: 1996
Director: Lars Von Trier
Stars: Emily Watson, Stellan Skarsgard, Katrin Cartlidge, Jean-Marc Barr, Adrian Rawlins, Jonathan Hackett, Sandra Voe, Udo Kier, Mikkel Gaup, Finlay Welsh, Phil McCall, Roef Ragas
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 10

Following the critical success of "Europa", director Lars Von Trier came back to the Cannes Film Festival in 1996 with "Breaking the Waves", which again would win the Grand Prize of the Jury. The film focuses on the story of Bess, a young and deeply religious woman, who lives in a small town in Scotland. Bess meets and falls in love with a danish oil-rig worker by the name of Jan. After getting married, Jan returns to the rig, where he suffers an accident which leaves him unable to walk and also to have sex with Bess. Jan asks Bess to seek out sexual satisfaction with other men, and report back to him on those experiences. Bess becomes convinced that her sacrifice is making Jan's health improve, and she progressively becomes tangled in riskier situations. 
Lars Von Trier has by now built an impressive body of work, and "Breaking the Waves" increased his visibility to a whole new level. The film is a stunning exploration of the power of faith and sacrifice, and much like a lot of his latter efforts, the central character goes through a dramatic expiation of her sins, in order to give a second life to her loved one. Much like the tribulations of Selma in "Dancer in the Dark", Bess' life slowly starts to unravel as her realization becomes more apparent to her. The film showcases a fantastic central performance by Emily Watson, who bares her body and soul as Bess, the enamored woman, who goes to every length of effort to make her loved one live, including doing acts that are shameful for her and her beliefs. Lars Von Trier divides the film in different chapters, much like the circles of hell written by Dante Alighieri - each chapter is a further sacrifice for Bess in her path. The film features a beautiful cinematography from Robby Muller. A simply stunning film!