Dancer in The Dark

Joe's Preview Review: 

Songstress Bjork does film. I'm interested. Lars Von Trier directing, more interested. Palme D'Or at Cannes, count me in.

Joe's Film Review: 

I remember going to see The Blair Witch Project and coming out feeling sick, sad, and unfullfilled. I felt sick from that shaking camera, I felt sad that I paid to see the movie, and I felt unfullfilled because this movie had be touted as the greatest thing since sliced bread but it sucked. With Dancer in the Dark I felt sick form that same kind of constantly moving camera and editing style but all similarities end there.

Dancer in the Dark is an emotionally harsh film that completely fulfills all expectations set for it by it's victory of Palme D'Or (the equivalent to Best Picture) at the most important film festival in the world. Plus a mostly French audience voted for an English movie as Best Film, there's a miracle.

One of the world's most unique and wide ranging figures, Icelandic pop diva Bjork, stars as a Czech immigrant named Selma who has a genealogic disorder that is causing her to lose her sight early in their life. She has come to America hoping to stop this disorder in her son by getting him a necessary operation.

To support Bjork, there is an amazing ensemble cast that provide a plethora of excellent performances. David Morse plays Bjork's caring landlord, Catherine Deneuve is her supporting and comforting best friend, and Peter Stormare is a guy that is completely in love her and whose love is unrequited. Morse and Stormare are very popular supporting actors in Hollywood. Morse has been the tough cop in The Negotiator and Jodie Foster's dad in Contact. Peter Stormare, one of my personal favorite actors, can be credited with the other kidnapper in Fargo along with Steve Buscemi, the Slippery Pete role in the classic Frogger "Seinfeld" episode, a German nihilist in The Big Lebowski, and the Russian astronaut in Armageddon.

No matter how great the appetizers are, it's the main dish
that counts. Bjork should be the frontrunner for the Best Actress
statuette but she will never be rewarded to her pronounced hatred for acting (she said she never wants to be in a film ever again after this experience with Lars Von Trier), her not being a true actress, and she's not a Hollywood insider. Her performance as the constantly-smiling-through-some-of-the- worst-conditions-a-person-could-live-in Selma is inspirational and moving. Bjork's Selma is far superior than Madonna doing Evita.

Selma's a true dreamer; she's like a little child in a tough adult position of raising a child on her own, in a foreign country, and going blind. It's the most original character but Bjork makes the most out of it and the presentation of a pure drama in musical form. In the middle of a near death experience, Selma will break into a song. She's in an abusive fairytale. This figurehead of innocence is in another kind of reality. Selma's daydreaming in what any other person would consider hell.

Clocking in at well over 2 hours, this ultimate musical is truly grueling on your emotions. The editing techniques are abusive on the stomach. Bjork has duets with the three previous mentioned co-stars which could be considered grueling on the ears. And by the time, Bjork is on trial you feel her pain. She is being punished for being good, true to herself, honest. The harshness of truth is displayed in real way; it's not always rewarded.

Dancer in the Dark is a beautifully nauseating masterpiece showcasing the (uniqueness) of Bjork. She is the perfect for this role, the only woman who could do it true justice. Her smile can warm any place even the most depressing, and her voice atones the ears. On a side note, she makes factory sound like a curse word. Her natural talent and ability take music which is usually kept in the background, and move it to the forefront while perfectly integrating it into the movie to make a unique visual and auditorial feast. It's truly too bad Bjork has sworn off movies, partially because of the film's brilliant but eccentric director Lars Von Trier, because she is one actress I would pay just to see.

The songs are great, the style is perspicacious, and the originality of the methods are galvanizing. Although not for the weak stomached, I would recommend this movie as one of the best dramatic film's of the year. All hail Bjork!

Rating: 4 out of 4
Running Time: 140 minutes
Rated R for some violence
Starring: Bjork, Peter Stormare, David Morse, Catherine Deneuve, 
and Stellan Skarsgard
Written and Directed by: Lars Von Trier (Breaking The Waves, The Idiots)

Bjork doing her thing as Selma on "Selmasongs", some of the most beautiful and poignant pieces of music in 2000. Click on the pic to check it out. 

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Copyrighted by Joe "Buscemifan" Soria 1998-2001.