In the outskirts of Scotland, Bess, a religious young woman, falls in love with and marries a handsome oil rig worker. Soon, an unfortunate work accident cripples him for life, which shatters Bess’s world completely, especially when he encourages her to take on other lovers.
From controversial director Lars von Trier comes the first entry in his Golden Heart trilogy, which was followed by The Idiots and the Palme d’Or winning Dancer in the Dark. Starring Emily Watson in an uncompromising performance, Breaking the Waves remains one of Von Trier’s finest achievements.
From a bare look at the plot this film can appear a typical melodrama. Essentially it's just a tragic love story set in working class religious Scottish Highlands. Trier's magic though, in the tradition of Cassavetes and Fassbinder, transforms this base into an intense psychological study of human passion and it's extremes. All while a realist style challenging beauty and perversion is at play.
My favourite of the Golden Heart trilogy. Von Trier is brilliant at de-sacralizing the eternal story, placing it right in the dull and humdrum life at the gloomy seaside. Emily Watson made it wonderfully, but I think she stuck too deeply to this part and shows those watery eyes and trembling lips over and over again.