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Breaking the Waves

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Denmark, Sweden, France · 1996
Rated R · 2h 39m
Director Lars von Trier
Starring Emily Watson, Stellan Skarsgård, Katrin Cartlidge, Jean-Marc Barr
Genre Drama, Romance

In a small and religiously conservative Scottish village, Bess marries Ian, an oil rig worker. After a tragic accident leaves him paralyzed, Ian suffers psychologically from his inability to perform sexually. He asks Bess to have sex with other men and then describe her experiences to him so he can live vicariously.

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Newsweek by David Ansen

There are few movies around that take such huge risks: this is high-wire filmmaking, without a net of irony.


The New York Times by Elvis Mitchell

A narrative path leading from the sincere to the ludicrous, and culminating in a final image of flabbergasting transcendance, gives Breaking the Waves its surprising power.


Chicago Reader by Jonathan Rosenbaum

You won't come out of it indifferent, and even if it winds up enraging you (I could have done without most of the ending myself), it nonetheless commands attention.


Austin Chronicle by Russell Smith

With this artlessly profound and affecting story of love, von Trier emerges as one of those blessed filmmakers who've managed to blend their early stylistic flamboyance with enough human empathy to make their work both visually and emotionally compelling.

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