Von Trier's Palme d'or winning film still stands as one of his best realized creations. Mixing the movie musical with a Sirk style melodrama he achieved a sublime hybrid. Bjork is perfectly cast as Selma and the supporting team is quite interesting all around with special mention to Stormare needed. Muller's cinematography is fluid even while working the '100' camera shoots. The behind the scenes stories are legend.
Bjork is excellent and....that's it. She saves this exercise in melodrama. Apparently, Von Trier is afraid of human beings because he fills this whole thing up with people that, on paper, are morally ambiguous and he just turns them into assholes. Even Bjork feels like some dream victim of his. The 100 camera gimmick adds nothing and just makes the dance sequences have no oomph to them since it's all random.
This is my second von Trier after Melancholia, which despite its maximalism struck me as bombastically slight because it manifested depression without illuminating it. I had a similar reaction to Dancer, which is formally unique, but all in favor of making a heroine suffer to hit our masochistic pleasure button. In short, von Trier pioneers his own cinematic language without using it to say anything vital. 3 stars.
Like Pollyanna playing glad game, except Selma living in tragedy. And playing glad game like that to cover over tragedy made the tragedy itself become more more disturbing to witness. It probably has one of the best tragic ending ever :[
Bjork's performance is so innocent, so vulnerable in this film that you just want to take her under your wing and shield her from the nightmare that unravels Selma's life. I bought the soundtrack before ever seeing the film, so I didn't have the full context behind the songs at first. Listening to "107 Steps" or the "I've Seen It All" duet with Thom Yorke is now heart-rendingly sad.