Weekly Mini-Review: Dancer in the Dark (2000)

Bjork in Dancer in the Dark

Story: A poor immigrant woman that is slowly going blind tries to earn enough money for her son’s operation (to keep him from going blind) in a lowly factory job. Obsessed with musicals, she imagines song/dance routines interspersed in her dreary life. Later, betrayal and greed by a would-be friend leads to her incarceration and death.

Review: Granted, it’s been years since I saw this film (I saw in when I was in my teens), but it had a lasting impression – and here it is: The song and dance bits are okay, but could definitely be better – even musically. As you can see above, the cinematography and mise en scene show careful and planning, despite the whole silly Dogme ’95 aura about it. While the writing itself borders on ludicrous, most of the major players (including Bjork as the lead) are excellent actors – which is partially what makes this film so gut-wrenchingly depressing. This film goes out of its way to take the most pitiful character imaginable (a poor, blind, single mother with a prospectively sick child) and basically slowly tortures her to death by inches.

Recommended for: People who’ve decided that they’re just too darned happy and need some extreme depressing, or people who can somehow tolerate Lars Von Trier’s films without becoming either clinically depressed or suicidal – but are still sadomasochistic.

Content notes: (V, VV, R) – This is a very psychologically violent movie. Having just read over the reviews of others, I don’t recommend this for young folks. While there are some viewers who just find it unbelievable and silly, others have actually found it mind-bendingly depressing. So, take care. I don’t remember any overt profanity in the film, although I must admit I wasn’t looking for it.

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