Dancer In The Dark
(Click here for Internet Movie Database entry)

About halfway through Dancer in the Dark, I started feeling nauseous. I was thinking about whether it was something I ate for lunch when three words entered my mind, Blair Witch Project. Don't believe the ads. The sequel to The Blair Witch Project is not The Book of Shadows. It is Dancer in the Dark. This film is shot in extreme Dogma style with handheld cameras which are jerking back and forth throughout the movie.  There's no reason for this since unlike Blair Witch, they are being held by cameramen.  The director is Lars von Trier best known for Breaking The Waves.  The bizarre nature of this film extends to the cast which like a Sergio Leone western includes all sorts of actors from different countries thrown together without much explanation. Dancer in the Dark includes an Icelandic pop star (Bjork), a French Cultural Icon (Catherine Deneuve), and two journeymen actors (David Morse and Peter Stormare). Morse was last seen as a prison guard in The Green Mile and is still fondly remembered from St. Elsewhere.  Stormare is Swedish but is best known to North American audiences as the wood-chipping-hitman partner of Steve Buscemi in Fargo.  Other familiar faces include Zeljko Ivanek best known as the District Attorney on Homicide, Life on the Street  who also plays a District Attorney here, wearing, I swear, the same suit he wore in Homicide.  Joel Grey, yes, the Joel Grey, appears as the movie idol of Bjork.  The plot seems simple enough. A woman from Czechoslovakia (Bjork) moves to America with her young son and works in a factory. She is slowly going blind and her son has the same affliction so she is saving money to pay for an operation to save his sight.  She loves movie musicals and daydreams about her life as if she were in one herself.  We see these fantasies on screen as song and dance numbers.  Bjork is excellent in this role which she claims will be her only acting role ever. She radiates a puckish charm throughout the movie. Catherine Deneuve, besides seeming very out of place as a beautiful French woman working in an American factory, is also good as Bjork's best friend.  Joel Grey shows he is still spry as he dances in one of the musical fantasies.  I quite enjoyed the first half of Dancer in the Dark but in the second half, seasickness and depression took over and I found it hard to enjoy.  The lives of Bjork and those around her enter a death spiral and the end of the movie is pretty distressing. It is also infuriating because the plot doesn't make that much sense. The musical scenes work pretty well, presented as they are, as Bjork's daydreams. She wrote the music which arises from day-to-day noises around her.  Dancer in the Dark won the Palm d'Or at Cannes this year. Apparently, some people were less susceptible to motion sickness than me and also liked it a lot more.