Björk is one of those artists who transcends every three years into something nouvelle and unique. I may be biased. In fact, I'm very biased. I love her. But far beyond my love and devotion to the musician is my appreciation for an incredible film. And Dancer In The Dark, a Lars von Trier musical, is one of those undeniably brilliant films that proves that Björk can dive into the world of cinema and act brilliantly.
There is a sense of realism in Selma that is a highlight here in director von Trier's film. Though you can get confused with the shaky camera work, it is Björk's portrayal of Selma that truly breathes. Rather than acting the character, she emotes it. For a while you forget she's Björk, you forget you are watching a film and are absorbed in a fabrication as though it were a documentary. Selma is a loving but strict and proud mother who asks for no charity and must resort to desperate measures for the sake of her son. The character has many depths and each is explored with a delicacy and fragility.
Björk is not the only star, though as her supporting cast are wonderful. Catherine Deneuve's stern Kathy and Peter Stormare's Jeff are truly brilliant allies within Selma's plight, and the humble Bill (played by David Morse) takes a dramatic character curve that is powerful and shocking. Each is unraveled before us until they collide together in a magnificent, yet horrific ending... one that stays in your mind forever.
There are some flaws. For example, Vladica Kostic who plays Gene is a struggling child actor who is unbelievable and that's probably why he is rarely seen; and Stormare is an excellent actor, but not much of a singer. Also, the guest appearance by Joel Grey as an old Czech theatrical actor seems contrived.
Dancer In The Dark won many awards and deservedly so. It is an underrated classic that deserves more appreciation than it gets. Von Trier, despite rumors of his difficulty whilst filming, drags us into a story so compelling it is hard to peel your eyes away. While combining realistic characters with a fantastical music mind, Dancer In the Dark goes beyond that of an ordinary musical and makes it extraordinary. But, gah, certainly the ending is one of the most depressing musical endings of all time.