Vita Brevis Breviter In Brevi Finietu

Vita Brevis Breviter In Brevi Finietu

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Film Review: Breaking The Waves (1996)




Breaking The Waves is the first in director Lars Von Trier's Golden Hearts trilogy. It's set in the 1970s in a remote part of Scotland and focuses on the childlike Bess (Emily Watson), whom has previously suffered from psychological problems.  She marries Jan (Stellan Skarsgard), a oil rig worker whom doesn't meet the approval of the local church, whom are opposed to people outside of the area with different beliefs. Bess often speaks to God yet also answered back in her 'god voice', often criticising her for being selfish and not thinking of others. When Jan gets sent back to the rigs she prays for his return, only for him to return due to an accident which leaves him paralysed. He convinces her to start sleeping with other men so that they can relive the experience as though it were them. This leads to a break down for Bess' reputation and her psychological problems become much worse once more.

Although on the long side, it's enjoyable and Emily Watson is a pleasure to watch as the unique Bess. I particularly enjoyed her conversations between her and 'God'. She plays the innocence and simple mindedness so well it's hard to imagine her as the intelligent, well spoken woman that she is. Jan and Dodo (Katrin Cartlidge) are also enjoyable characters.

The style of the film is so natural and realistic that it really gives you a sense of being a lot closer to the drama. I love the grainy effect and feel that it really adds more tone to the sadness and struggles of Jan's long term illness. The film as a whole after the wedding chapter is actually hard going and as a viewer I felt that I'd been through the situation myself. Even though the film is essentially a simple love story, it is completely the opposite to Hollywood blockbusters in the sense that there is no happy ending and no upbeat tone. It portrays a far more realistic and lifelike story which is what I love most about the film.

I'd really recommend watching this and will be checking out the other two films in the trilogy myself.

Rating: 9/10


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