irst let me congratulate Bjork on her first and (according to her) last
performance as an actress in a motion picture. Bjork was seemingly born for the
role of Selma, a mousy, even childish woman who, surprisingly actually has a son
to care for, even though it's a miracle she can care for herself. Catherine
Deneuve, still looking radiant and beautiful in her later years, is Kathy,
Selma's friend and, to be frank, savior. You see it doesn't help to be going
blind when you're working in a factory with thousand-pound machines grinding,
pumping, and crushing away. David Morse has a supporting role as Bill, Selma's
neighbor, who she is obviously infatuated with. I guess you could call it a
schoolgirl crush. Bill, on the other hand, wants Selma for something other than
her looks or her crush.
"Dancer" is my first introduction to a Denmark movie (what do you
call a Denmark movie, Danish?), and I must confess to not exactly enjoying my
experience. There are bright spots in the movie, as when, from Selma's
perspective, her surroundings transform into musical numbers. Selma, you see, is
not only going blind, but also she's in love with American musicals, and as
such, she daydreams quite a bit. Again, this is dangerous for someone working in
a factory with dangerous machines.
I believe Bjork did a tremendous job as the mousy and pathetic Selma, but for
my money Deneuve's Kathy is what made this movie at least just that bit more
watchable. Kathy is strong-willed and understands loyalty. When Selma transfers
to the night shift, she's obviously out of her element, and immediately finds
herself in trouble. Kathy shows up to save the day, working completely "on
her own time" to help Selma keep her job. It is a great act of faith and
loyalty, and Deneuve plays her role with perfection. I only regret that I have
not seen any of her other movies, but hope to rectify that mistake soon.
As to the movie's technical details -- von Trier chose to shoot his movie
with a handheld camera. The image looks grainy, and there's a definite cinema
verite feel to the movie. For the first ten minutes or so my head was spinning
from the jerky camera movements, but eventually became accustomed to, if not
enjoying, the technique. I do not believe there is one single stationary camera
shot during the "real" moments in the movie. When it comes to the
musical dream sequences, there are plenty of bright lights and more traditional
shots. I can understand von Trier's usage of handheld. It's an aesthetic choice,
and one that makes sense. Still, I wish he had cut down on the handheld.
The movie is not for everyone, and it certainly was not made for persons such
as myself. I cannot hope to sit through 2 hours plus of grainy film and jerky
motion. Perhaps I do not have the patience, or perhaps I just need a little bit
more bang for my buck. The movie is extremely emotional, gritty, and real.
Unfortunately, I do not go to the movies to see real life, and this movie was
not my cup of tea.