Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Breaking the Waves (movie review)

On advice of a film school veteran, I queued this one up (no, not Netflix, Movie Madness).  Lars von Trier directs Emily Watson and others through a Midwinter Night's Nightmare one might say.

Emily is torn by religious convictions and her joyless parents have little of the "cheerfulness" of the Eagle Scouts.  They have a brain dead religion and there's not much available in the way of big city alternative lifestyles.  

The girl and her beau are well on the way to reinventing the entire sex industry, from phone sex to other kinkiness (A to Z) thanks to their powerful mutual attraction yet separation by circumstance (he's got an oil rig gig, no option to bring women friends -- pre-Internet you know).

The film bears rewatching though I admit to getting squirmy when the camera I'm in barges into somebody's bedroom or bathroom when I haven't been invited.  They likely wouldn't appreciate me standing there gawking.  Part of it is preferring Narnia creatures maybe, like that Ice Queen isn't bad.

Anyway, back to the soap:  she's ridiculously innocent and so the lamb to the slaughter theme seems inevitable.  I'm glad I saw this in close proximity to Mr. Lonely, with the Marilyn impersonator still resonant.  Yet she's selfish as well and punishes herself for that in true schizophrenic style.  The corny ending is just that:  how sailors have always dealt with tragedy; they weave a tall tale.

The hypocrisy of the audience position is pretty farcical if one shares the puritanical disgust for the fantasies of a paralyzed man.  The best way he knows to continue a sex life is in is head and how can we blame him in that sense.  It's just he has no idea how terribly unsexy are the scenes she's throwing herself into for his sake, i.e. his imagination is not up to remote viewing at this point or he'd use a long cane to pull her off stage (she claims a psychic bond, but it's hardly hifi -- not their fault as they were just getting started).

She's selfish with regard to the doctor, who does have feelings for people, but walks his talk as an ethical guy.  He's not about to be entrapped in some awkward (compromising) situation.  The story has to hold water (eventually).  But here she's done a full frontal assault on his person without much empathy for any relationship but hers and Jan's.  

He wants to talk and get to the bottom of things, be authentic, but she'll have none of it really, because her intent is to use him, not love him.  She stops hearing from God right around that point, but then the connection picks up again -- low bandwidth as usual (I know, I know, who am I to judge).

The scene I'll call "the medical inquisition" is important as the good doctor wants to express the basic goodness of this woman who has all the churchmen throwing stones (at least mentally) -- their younger selves personified by the boys who push bicycles, taunt her and throw physical stones.  

Those boys are the next churchmen, well along the way in their brain dead religion.  We see that as the "priest" role models his disdain and disgust for the hapless Lamb of God (he might have felt like kicking her and didn't, so lets give him points for self control).

As the audience, we know what the good doctor means, and we're not sitting in high judgement like the others.  We're voyeurs too.  The ship she got roughed up in is beyond the inquisition's jurisdiction.  There's no talk of arrest or seizing the vessel -- that's just not in the cards.  These landlubbers know their place as but peons.

The irony is how her prayers keep getting answered i.e. her narrative is upheld,.  Between herself and her sister's heartfelt wishes, there's Jan, a good fellow, staggering back to his feet, a knightly champion of his wife's memory.  However because it's not during some church event in response to "receiving Jesus", people just shrug it off.  Sometimes people get better, so what? Better to taunt the joyless churchmen with the Miracle of the Bells.

She's the saint in this picture, which doesn't mean should couldn't have benefited from more therapy.