Dancer in the Dark ★★★★½

Dancer in the Dark is a totally unique film. It is an anti-musical, deconstructing cinema and removing all excess to create something borne in theatricality. It is artificially realist, made with Dogme 95 inflections and a handheld style. Unlike Hollywood musicals that only play gritty, Dancer in the Dark is a true musical of pain. Everything here is so cruel, with even loving people unable to save a poisoned world. Plotwise Dancer in the Dark is a story of poverty, immigration, and dreams of a better life in America. Yet the film's fantasy America leads the story down melodramatic turns. Most musicals use songs for expression, but none quite capture the retreat into fantasy as well as Dancer in the Dark. Here the music is used to briefly feel less pain, which is quite depressingly beautiful. The unique music is drawn from the sounds of the world, creating something transcendent. The musical numbers reach a form of mundane fantasy that almost no film manages. It's a great achievement by Lars von Trier. Björk gives a performance of a lifetime, and her musical contributions are also stunning. I've Seen It All is a masterpiece of a song, and the emotional scene around it is perhaps von Trier's most moving sequence. Dancer in the Dark is a musical without glamour, moving into minimalist and avant-garde territories that push the form of cinema in new ways. It's a unique work of art, and also one that breaks my heart.

Just to state: Lars von Trier is a cunt.

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