Melancholy Marvels

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Breaking The Waves (1996)

A bright, breezy tale of one woman’s sexual liberation… No, sorry, Breaking The Waves is a comparatively little-seen gem that revels in its own melancholy to ultimately shocking effect. A very young Emily Watson takes centre stage as a woman raised in a devoutly Christian community on a small Scottish island. To the chagrin of the island elders, though, she meets and falls in love with Stellan Skarsgard’s worldly oil rigger and her world changes. That is until he is paralyzed in an accident and implores her to allow him to live vicariously through her sexual exploits. Things take an even darker turn when she boards a ship with that end in mind and ends up being savagely beaten and raped. Watson plays the whole thing with such a wide-eyed, almost crazed simplicity that each gut punch life throws at her seems even worse than it would for someone made of stronger stuff and Breaking The Waves is all the more unforgettable for that. Definitely not one to watch with the family, though.




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