Dancer in the Dark
Directed by Lars von Trier
Apparently the early 2000s were the heyday of depressing musicals. Of course, I should have known that Lars von Trier would take it to a whole other level.
The story is set in Washington, although it is clearly not the United States. I suppose it could be part of his attempted artistry but it is strange all the same. Selma Jezkova is a Czech immigrant who has a hereditary eye condition that is making her lose her vision. She is saving up money working at a factory in order to pay for her young son's eye surgery to prevent him from going blind as well. She often imagines that her life is a musical and daydreams about elaborate (but poorly choreographed) musical numbers. I think revealing any more of the plot would qualify as a spoiler so I will just tell you: things get worse.
I am not sure that the Dogme style of filmmaking was right for a musical. I am not saying that every musical has to be as grandiose as a Busby Berkeley film movie, but there should be at least some showmanship. I have never minded Bjork's voice, but some of the songs were quite painful to sit through. I am not saying they had to have perfectly executed dance sequences, but what they did come up with just didn't look good.
That being said, I was pulled into the story. I thought the ending made up for some of the more mediocre scenes. Also Catherine Deneuve was in this, and nothing can be too bad if you have Catherine Deneuve on your side.
So flawed, but ultimately funky enough to be memorable. Definitely my favorite Trier film so far.
Bjork reportedly ate part of her costume after filming ended.
Lars Von Trier has said that Bjork spit at him every morning before filming.