A woman on the run from the mob is reluctantly accepted in a small Colorado town. In exchange, she agrees to work for them. As a search visits the town, she finds out that their support has a price. Yet her dangerous secret is never far away.
Drama set in a repressed, deeply religious community in the north of Scotland, where a naive young woman named Bess McNeil meets and falls in love with Danish oil-rig worker Jan. Bess and Jan are deeply in love but, when Jan returns to his rig, Bess prays to God that he returns for good. Jan does return, his neck broken in an accident aboard the rig. Because of his condition, Jan and Bess are now unable to enjoy a sexual relationship and Jan urges Bess to take another lover and tell him the details. As Bess becomes more and more deviant in her sexual behavior, the more she comes to believe that her actions are guided by God and are helping Jan recover.Written by
Jonathan Broxton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
(at around 7 mins) When Bess is in bed with her sister-in-law, the blanket is on, then off, Bess' shoulder. See more »
His name is Jan.
I do not know him.
He's from the lake.
You know we do not favor matrimony with outsiders.
Can you even tell us what matrimony is?
It's when two people are joined in God.
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The director's cut of the film, featuring explicit shots removed from the U.S. version for ratings purposes, is available on Criterion laserdisc. See more »
Although Lars von Trier's "Breaking the Waves" is undoubtedly one of the most impressive films of recent years, I have delayed commenting on it until now, as my feelings about it are far from clear. Certainly it has an arresting quality that held me in a vice-like grip for nearly three hours - no mean achievement as generally once over the two-hour threshold one is looking for the scissors. But, no, it has a mesmerising quality that reminds me of Dreyer's "Ordet" at times. Both are set in remote communities and deal with religious concepts which, even for a semi-believer, remain difficult to comprehend; in the case of Dreyer the miracle of a resurrection and here the hint at something similar in a final scene I will not reveal. Both films have a supposedly mentally unstable central character, a young man who talks as Christ in "Ordet" while Bess, the young woman in "Breaking the Waves" talks to God who answers her in her own voice's deepest register. Bess falls in lave with Jan, an oil-rig worker and the early scenes chart their wedding. When Jan has to return to the oil-rig the distraught Bess prays to God for his return, a prayer that is answered ironically when he returns paralysed from the neck down after an accident on the rig. How Bess lives with this situation is the subject of the second and third hours of the film. These have at times an almost unbearable intensity and at one point, where a group of children taunt Bess, we are in deepest "Mouchette" country. It is one of those very rare films where I feel the use of a hand-held camera to be completely justified as it gives extraordinarily emotional events a frenetic immediacy. However by punctuating the action with chapter headings set against long held landscape stills, moments of an almost trance-like repose are achieved between each onslaught on the senses. Whether the film is anything more than a quirky tale of sexual derangement bordering on morbidity is something that two viewings have left me uncertain about. That I have compared it to Dreyer and Bresson is evidence that it is not a work to be ignored, but at the moment I have a gut reaction that there is more than a hint of sensationalism here that somewhat diminishes its artistic integrity when set beside the work of the earlier masters.
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