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Dancer in the Dark
Time Out says
After the rigours of The Idiots, von Trier returns to Breaking the Waves territory with another emotionally upfront, somewhat hollow tale of self-sacrificing, saintly womanhood. In rural America, Czech single mother Björk keeps quiet about her rapidly deteriorating sight so that she can retain her factory job and pay for an op to prevent her son from going blind. After she accidentally kills her neighbour (Morse), who has stolen her savings, her continuing refusal to keep the truth from her child makes for 'tragedy' (or so the director would define it). What makes the film a little unusual is that every so often it jolts into dance-musical sequences, illustrating the optimistic fantasies into which our brave heroine escapes. The trouble is, all the cameras in the world (and a 100 were reportedly used for some scenes), coupled with MTV-style editing, can't conceal the imaginative poverty of von Trier's response to the (admittedly ho-hum) choreography, nor the disingenuous contrivances of the plot. Whether one finds Björk's angelic attempts to console fellow Death Row inmates with a song deeply moving or offensive, trivial and tasteless is a matter of personal sensibility (I gagged!), but, Deneuve's under-used presence as Bjork's workmate notwithstanding, there's no denying that this can't hold a candle to the best work by Demy, let alone von Trier's beloved Dreyer.