Dancer in the Dark
Credit: Wren Maloney

Remember the shaky handheld camera style used so relentlessly in Woody Allen’s ”Husbands and Wives”? Imagine dramatic scenes shot that way interlaced with elaborate but wistful song and dance numbers, and you’ll begin to picture the very strange aesthetic of this angst drenched fable. Meet Selma (played by Icelandic diva Björk), a Czech expatriate single mom who’s going blind as she slaves away at a metal factory in the Pacific Northwest, circa the mid 1960s. She loves Hollywood musicals so much that her grim everyday life — captured not on film but in grainy, drably colored video footage edited in a deliberately choppy style by Danish vérité devotee von Trier — keeps morphing into fantasy revelries.

An admitted ”non actress,” Björk by all reports (including her own) had a difficult time with her role, and at one point she reportedly walked off the set for several days. ”It was very intense,” she says. ”And I didn’t do anything else while I was doing this. So I think I slowly became this person. I definitely was not Björk for two years.” GOOD SIGN ”Dancer” waltzed off with two top awards at Cannes, including the Palme d’Or for best picture. THEN AGAIN No Palme d’Or winner since 1996’s ”Secrets & Lies” has grossed even $1 million in the U.S. — and North American distributor/ coproducer Fine Line has $12 million invested in this one.

Dancer in the Dark
  • Movie
  • 134 minutes