Breaking the Waves
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With Breaking The Waves, director Lars von Trier fashions an often disturbing tale of the singular power of love. Bess (the Oscar-nominated Emily Watson) is a naïve, borderline simple young woman who lives in a Scottish coastal town ruled by the religious doctrine of its council of elders. Recovering from a mental breakdown caused by the death of her brother, Bess marries a rough yet compassionate and attentive oil rig worker named Jan (Stellan Skarsgård). For a brief time, the couple enjoys peaceful wedded bliss, with the worldly Jan introducing Bess to the mysteries of sex. Jan must soon… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Both a ferocious love story and a tale of the triumph of vital individual faith over ossified and corrupt organized religion."
‑ Christopher Long, Movie Metropolis
"Von Trier may put his characters and the viewer through the ringer, yet his empathy toward both is unmistakable."
‑ Rob Nelson, City Pages, Minneapolis/St. Paul
"The synopsis doesn't begin to do justice to the psychological and emotional complexities of the tale."
‑ Michael Dequina,
"Will introduce the experimental director to a wider American audience."
‑ Judith Egerton, Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
"Brutal and passionate."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, San Francisco Examiner
"Issues of faith, devotion, sexuality and divine intervention are at the center of this daring and provocative piece that placed writer-director Lars von Trier on the international map."
‑ Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing
"Here is a film that makes you feel like you've read the novel, seen the movie, and lived the life of a protagonist more empathetic than any other. You just might need a stiff drink afterward."
‑ Cole Smithey,
"The actors are superb. [But] it is the easiest thing in the world to do ... move people by destroying something beautiful."
‑ Jeffrey Overstreet, Looking Closer
"Watson's mesmerising performance propels this sad but weirdly uplifting look at sex, spirituality and guilt."
‑ Dan Lybarger, Nitrate Online
"mesmerizing, harrowing and in the end euphoric"
‑ Brandon Judell, Critics Inc./America Online
"It's a testament to Emily Watson's astounding performance as Bess that she comes across as more than a von Trier construct; she's a woman of boundless passion, who follows her faith wherever it takes her."
‑ Scott Tobias, The Dissolve
"A powerful tear-jerker romantic drama that intriguingly also brings religion into the mix."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
‑ Jon Niccum, Lawrence Journal-World
"Well done, but so incredibly depressing that it's not entertaining."
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
"Glorious paean to the mighty power of love."
‑ Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice
More reviews for Breaking the Waves on Rotten Tomatoes

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