Movie Review by EDF
Starring: Bjork, Catherine Deneuve, David Morse
Director: Lars Von Trier
One of the few movies in recent years to divide an audience, DANCER IN THE DARK will either be an enjoyable realistic musical or an endurance test as to whether you can last out the whole movie.
This is the story of Selma, played by Bjork, a Czech immigrant in America, who is bringing up a young son and making ends meet by working in a factory. A passion for music, especially musical, Selma escapes into a fantasy world where everybody and everything, both sight and sound, are part of her musical escapade whenever there is a turn of events in her life. One of the reasons for this has to do with a secret Selma keeps close to her heart, Selma is losing her eyesight and her son will also lose his unless he has an operation for this problem. Due to this, Selma saves as much money as she possibly can and does not really allow other people to give her handouts or presents, even from her landlord.
As Selma does not have a bank account, she trusts her landlord to keep the money safe. Unfortunately when Selma decides that she has saved up enough money for her son’s operation, the landlord refuses to hand over the money, due to his own growing debts. Selma attacks him and makes it worse when he tells her to shoot him – she obliges! From that point onwards Selma loses control of her world and it seems inevitable what will tragically happen next.
I will admit that I am a fan of Bjork’s music, so this movie was always going to be a curiosity. The movie is set around the 1950’s and there is a stark realism to the characters and the situations they are in. Bjork is charming in the role of Selma and is supported by the reliable Catherine Deneuve as her best friend and workmate. As for the musical numbers, the interesting thing here is that Bjork fought to have total musical control; this seems to have been the right decision. Bjork could have easily performed these songs during Hollywood’s golden era of musicals. Lars Von Trier’s direction just about keeps the movie going at a steady and sometimes slow pace while the musical numbers are thoroughly entertaining.
They just don’t make them like they used to.