This difficult, even ostensibly blasphemous, 1996 film astonished some and infuriated others. Danish writer/director Lars von Trier (Zentropa, The Kingdom) concocted a story in which a simple-minded young woman in a repressed and deeply religious small town in northern Scotland falls in love with and marries a Scandinavian oil worker. Their new marriage is passionate and loving, but when he goes off to work for long weeks, she prays for his permanent return. A neck injury leaves him paralyzed and brings him home permanently, but now they cannot do anything together and she feels terribly guilt-ridden for having "caused" this. Confused, selfish, and desperate, he urges her to have sex with another man and tell him about it afterward; unwillingly, she takes on this mission as her cross to bear, laying herself out to the lusts of the men and the contempt and fear of the village, who come to regard her as a witch. Gradually she comes to believe she is doing God's bidding, and that pursuing her brazen sexual behavior will save her husband's life. The film highlights its artificiality, being divided into 9 "chapters" heralded by off-putting pop tunes from the early 1970s: Jethro Tull, Procol Harum, T Rex, Roxy Music, Elton John. But Emily Watson, in her 29-year-old film debut after years of stage work, acts the role of a woman who achieves a kind of purity of soul through utter physical degradation, with incredible conviction.
The review of this Movie prepared by David Loftus