Projections - Movie Reviews

Dancer in the Dark Dancer in the Dark

A romantic fantastical interpretation of tragedy reflects through one of Hollywood's lauded traditions in Lara Von Trier's provocative, strange, bold surreal vision which has Dancer in the Dark polarizing its audiences.  Von Tier's hand held digitized camera infusion with a European spin on some of the classic Broadway musical forms can be characterized as chaotic in many ways, but somehow Icelandic star Bjork works with the Danish writer/director to create a mystical poignancy from the bombardment of the imagination with a cold harsh reality.

Von Trier calls on American choreographer Vincent Paterson (Evita) to bring show dancing to its Washington State setting in the mid 60's.  The result is ragged but conveys a gradual spiritual struggle for its heroine, similar to Emily Watson's turn in Breaking the Waves.

The shifting story almost matches the camera tied director as the enslaved sink factory worker, Bjork's Selima, works with her friend Kathy, French diva Catherine Deneuve still lovely in middle age, to raise her ten year old son Gene (Vladica Kostic).  She knows he'll be blind like her if she can't find a way to finance an operation for him.  By daydreaming Selma finds relief from her desolate condition - that's where the musical interludes come in, often set against the backdrop of the pressing factory with machines churning and trains rattling.

The secret of Selima and her son is met with fatalistic repercussions after her savings for his operation disappear and Dancer in the Dark begins a dramatic jettison, as fantasies illuminate the darkness that has enveloped Selima's world.

Besides the supportive Deneuve who helps Selma through her problems, we see David Morse a next door neighbor cop, does something rash that ultimately doesn't find the justice which is anticipated.

Peter Stormare as Jeff, a suitor who isn't embraced as the musically inclined Selima finds more possibilities in her head with Joel Grey as a paternal figure.

Many will argue the verisimilitude of Bjork and Von Trier on more than one level, but Dancer in the Dark finds a surprising humanity as the audaciously experimental director lets his performer use the power of imagination.

Dancer in the Dark

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