Breaking the Waves
Directed by Lars von Trier
I am not going to say that Lars von Trier hates women, but he certainly puts his female characters through hell. I am not entirely sure why. It can't be to empower anyone, as the women rarely make it through their...trials (aka sexual torture). Joss Whedon often makes his heroines suffer, but they come out of their suffering stronger than ever. I would be happy for someone to explain how he is a genius in the comments section, because, to be honest, he is kind of creeping me out.
Bess McNeill, a slow, deeply religious beauty, marries Jan Nyman, an atheist oil rigger. While he is away on the oil platform, Bess prays for him to return. The next day, Jan is injured in an accident and becomes paralyzed from the neck down. Bess is tormented by guilt, as she believe her prayer was the cause of his injury. For some insane reason, Jan then asks Bess to have sex with other men and tell him about it, thereby preserving his masculinity? I'm not sure about that. In any case, Bess follows these orders with uh...gusto.
The religious content in this film is interesting. I think von Trier is saying that organized religion (and the unyielding laws and sexual hysteria that comes with it) is kind of fucked, but I am not quite sure where he stands on the god question. But, honestly, did any of my readers think I could enjoy this? It was just so disgusting and horrifying. It is hard for me to see the beauty in this. I know it's there, but it is difficult for me to appreciate.
I'm just glad I don't have to watch Dogville after this.
Helena Bonham Carter originally was cast as Bess, but backed out due to the heavy sexual content.