Breaking The Waves
Dutch writer-director Lars Von Trier's first all-English-language film continues in the groundbreaking vein of such previous works as the stylish thriller Zentropa and the trash-classic supernatural soap opera The Kingdom. But while those films each made a deep impression in their own way, Breaking The Waves has a feel of real substance at which those movies only hinted. Oscar-nominated Emily Watson plays a deeply religious, sort of childlike Scottish woman who marries a foreign oil worker. When he is grievously injured, she begins to give herself, at his request, to strange men. One of Breaking The Waves' many strong points is Von Trier's ability to refrain from making it clear who is right and wrong: Watson's behavior is self-destructive and considered damnable by her tight-knit community, while the motives of her husband's request may themselves be perverse. The strength of her convictions, however, makes Watson's descent seem like a form of devotion. What Von Trier arrives at is a complex, contemporary, and deeply moving exploration of faith.