This film is unbelievably tragic and depressing, but it is nonetheless a beautiful film. The story it tells, about a selfless immigrant woman who allows herself to be hanged for a crime she did not commit (well, there’s a little gray area there, but she’s mostly innocent) to save her 13-year old son from going blind (don’t worry, it all makes perfect sense when you see the film), is one of decade’s most affecting.
Director Lars Von Trier has been responsible for some of the worst art films of all time (Antichrist being the most obvious example), but this is easily the best film he has ever made, and is actually quite well filmed in a minimalistic, sloppy-for-the-sake-of-effect way. The acting is equally lovely and sensitive, with Indie Pop singer Bjork giving a heartrending performance in the lead and Broadway living legend Joel Grey making a particularly memorable cameo.
The score, also written by Bjork, is weirdly beautiful and utterly fascinating, taking its cue from the idea that the protagonist hears music in everyday noises to create a series of innovative new idioms from scratch. This film is an acquired taste simply because the story is so desperately, unrelentingly tragic, but it you think you’re up to handling it, it is well worth seeing.