|A depressing musical starring Bjork?!|
Anytime Bjork is featured you can be fairly certain wackiness will ensue. So, when I settled in to watch a musical starring Bjork, I was expecting some wacky fun and light-hearted bizarreness. What I got was the most depressing, Life Is Pain movie I've seen since Dogville.
Dancer in the Dark stars Bjork (celebrated Icelandic musician) as a poor Eastern European mother who moved to America with her son. She works in a factory and sells pins to try and save up enough money for an operation to fix her son's eyesight. Her son is eventually going to go blind, as everyone in their family does (and as Bjork's character, Selma, very nearly is), though he is unaware of this fact. Selma's desire to keep her son from knowing is one of the major issues in this film.
There is a lot going on in this film. Many issues are dealt with, from money to relationships to pride to escapism. Akin to Dogville this movie gets progressively more depressing, so be warned. Unlike Dogville, however, it's a more traditional tragedy in that the protagonist clearly has tragic flaws that lead to the downfall. I think this traditionalism keeps it from being quite as gut-wrenching as Dogville, but that's not to say it isn't pretty awful (the scenario, not the movie).
The fact that Dancer in the Dark is a musical just gives it an unnecessary bizarreness. It creates strong juxtaposition between the shambles of everyday life and the glamour of Selma's daydreams. The musical numbers are quite varied, and the music isn't bad. It's nothing that I would get the soundtrack of, but it didn't detract from the movie, either.
Another oddity is that, although it is most certainly a musical, the first song isn't until about an hour into the movie. From the very beginning, however, they are making meta-references to musicals (Selma has always been in love with musicals, hence the reason her daydreams are musical numbers). This meta-layer is interesting, but really doesn't seem to add anything other than some pretentiousness. Kudos to writer/director Lars von Trier for working it into the plot, though.
This movie is pretty good. By that I don't mean it's particularly enjoyable, and I don't mean it's breaking any ground artistically... but it is certainly one-of-a-kind in its amalgamation of film-styles and elements. If you are particularly fond of movies that make you hate humanity, or are just a hardcore Bjork fan, then this movie is probably for you. Otherwise it's worth a watch, but don't go out of your way to find it.
Written by Hyperion, 2006-03-25 23:22:04
IMDb page: Dancer in the Dark (2000)