21 – Breaking the Waves (1996)


Emily Watson is heartbreaking yet dignified as von Trier heroine Bess, the small-town girl whose love for outsider Jan (Stellan Skarsgård) is both her making and horrific undoing. Organised religion and male depravity are forces of destruction while an enlightened doctor and grounded best friend provide cautionary voices. Ultimately the conviction and faith Bess finds in love is beyond anyone’s reach, and the world, unable to accommodate  her virtue, is damned.

Like: A lamb to the slaughter.

Core truth: To lift a line from Don McLean’s Vincent: “This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.”


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