Breaking the Waves
Breaking the Waves (1996)

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 naÔve, borderline simple young woman who lives in a Scottish coastal town ruled… More

Directed By:
Rated: R
Running Time:
Release Date: November 29, 1996
DVD Release Date: July 26, 2005
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Critic Score: 84% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews

Consensus: Breaking the Waves offers a remarkable testament to writer-director Lars von Trier's insight and filmmaking skill -- and announces Emily Watson as a startling talent.

David Stratton

The performance from newcomer Emily Watson is the centerpiece of this spiritual journey.

Barbara Shulgasser
Common Sense Media

Gloomy '90s drama has cursing, nudity, mature themes.

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Scott Tobias
The Dissolve

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.

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Geoff Andrew
Time Out

It's a remarkable achievement for all concerned, with Katrin Cartlidge, as Bess's widowed sister-in-law, sharing the acting laurels with the radiant Emily Watson, and writer/director Lars von Trier building the emotional and dramatic intensity ...

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Christopher Long
Movie Metropolis

Both a ferocious love story and a tale of the triumph of vital individual faith over ossified and corrupt organized religion.

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Rob Nelson
City Pages, Minneapolis/St. Paul

Von Trier may put his characters and the viewer through the ringer, yet his empathy toward both is unmistakable.

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Peter Stack
San Francisco Chronicle

Watson's Bess is an unforgettable character -- simple, profound, heartbreaking, tragic and yet triumphant.

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Matt Brunson
Creative Loafing

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.

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Cole Smithey

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.

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More reviews for Breaking the Waves

Flixster Audience Score: 91% Flixster User Reviews
Wildaly M
This was definitely a mesmerizing experience. The film is about so many things but what stood out most to me was the religious subject matter. There's… More
Graham Jones
A disturbing yet beautiful film. Von Trier's masterpiece and the best use of a Rod Stewart song in a movie.
jay nixon
Emily Watson is a wonderful actress, her performance is the only thing this ugly thing has going for it. Mean spirited ultimately pointless film. The ending has… More
Mark Walker
This was controversial Danish director Lars Von Trier's first film in English and also the first in his "Golden Hearts" trilogy in which the… More
Dan Schultz
An honest, super depressing look at a mentally unstable woman (Emily Watson) and her marriage to an oil rig worker (Stellan Skarsgard), and how they deal with… More
Kevin M. Williams
Breathtaking and heartbreaking, here is a unusual story about a small town woman, thought slow, simple and stupid by her peers, her unbelievably monumental… More