Dancer in the Dark movie poster
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Dancer in the Dark movie poster

Dancer in the Dark Movie Review

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Bjork, in her only theatrical role, stars in "Dancer in the Dark," director Lars von Trier's most well-known film. Dark, disturbing and sad, "Dancer in the Dark" still manages to fall a little short in the end.

Von Trier, not known for doing "straight forward" or simple films, lives up to his name here, presenting a strange and offbeat film that executes handheld cameras, a progressively dark story and musical numbers. Yes, musical numbers. Technically, the film is wonderful, but in the end, its uniqueness is its downfall. "Dancer in the Dark" is too slow and weird.

I am a big fan of Von Trier's latest work, "Dogville," and thoroughly enjoy dark and twisted tales. The story here is excellent, about an Eastern European woman who works at a factory in Washington State (my home state) and has a 10-year old son. She is beginning to go blind and has saved up enough money to help her son avoid the same fate. Unfortunately, her neighbor and friend (David Morse) is deeply in debt and wants her money; eventually, he can't stand the temptation anymore and steals her money. In the process of trying to get it back, she shoots him dead, but at his request. It only gets darker from there...

Unfortunately, "Dancer in the Dark" is just too weird for me. The film has about five or so musical numbers, in which Bjork dances around and sings very strange tunes. Some of the music is mesmerizing, but most of it isn't very beautiful, and none of the sequences really fit in the movie. I understand the point of the musical numbers, but don't think they are very good.

More than anything else, the lead character is just strange. It's hard enough to relate with someone who could have so easily avoided her fate (which, of course, is the whole point of the movie), but I really don't think blindness was her biggest disability - she acts mentally disabled half the time.

Nevertheless, at times, "Dancer in the Dark" is very effective. The first half the movie is very good, but once Bjork makes it to prison, the film slows down to a crawl. Nothing really happens; a good half hour could have been removed without losing anything.

"Dancer in the Dark" has an interesting story and good direction, but in the end, the movie falls victim to its own uniqueness.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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