There are sad films. There are depressing films. And there is Dancer in the Dark. Set in a small factory town in rural Washington, Lars von Trier’s tale of secrets and sacrifices takes the tired tropes of melodrama — death, poverty, even impending blindness — and turns it into a harrowing and hallucinatory dark fantasia about the American Dream. Playing Selma, the long-suffering factory worker who toils to pay for a medical procedure for her young son, Björk is absolutely mesmerizing — what she lacks in formal training as an actress she more than makes up for in emotional investment. The film’s not for everyone — it possesses an artiness that’s almost confrontational — but it’s worth checking out for the Icelandic rocker’s brave, brilliant and instinctual performance.
OTHER NOTEWORTHY PERFORMANCE(S): Björk, who reportedly had some creative differences with von Trier while shooting of Dancer, has not since appeared in a Hollywood movie.