Breaking The Waves: ‘will simply rip your heart in two’



Previously known for the train-set fripperies of Europa and the weirdsville hospital drama The Kingdom, Danish director Lars Von Trier has gone back to filmic first principles to create a film whose visionary power is as raw and exposed as it is unexpected.

Set in a close-knit Presbyterian community on the north coast of

Scotland in the early 70s, Breaking

The Waves is the story of a passionate young woman whose marriage to a Scandinavian oil worker brings her ecstatic happiness and him a radiant sense of purity until the honeymoon ends and he has to go back to the rig. 80 strong is Bess’s keening for Jan’s return that she prays fervently to have him back - pleas that are answered when an accident leaves him paralysed and impotent, plunging both

I ' of them into a psychological quicksand of guilt, sexual longing and

a personal odyssey through the most terrifying degradation in the hope of


That’s only the outline, however, and

it’s safe to say that this is one movie where the less you know beforehand, the better. Brilliantly shot in largely hand-held scope by Bobby Miiller, Von Trier’s film balances the striking immediacy of Cassavetes - in its highly-charged domestic scenes - with an epic quality that scans terror and wonder. Pop classics from the 705 (Bowie, Bolan et al) intervene to offer some breathing space, though reservations might be expressed at the degree of suffering the heroine has to endure, and indeed at the contentious final shot, which will have you arguing all night.

That said, the commitment of the performances weigh strongly in the film’s favour. Stellan Skarsgard has the measure of Jan’s earthy allure, while Katrin Cartlidge exemplifies sisterly grit, and newcomer Emily Watson’s engulfing performance as the angelic yet troubled Bess will simply rip your heart in two. An achievement of oceanic potency. (Trevor Johnston)

Breaking The Waves (18) (tars Von Trier, 1996, Den/Fr) Emily Watson, Ste/Ian Skarsgard, Katrin Cart/idge. 158 mins. Some subtitles. From Fri 18. Glasgow: GFTZ Edinburgh: Cameo.

WHEN THE CAT’S AWAY Sometimes a film comes along which goes beyond simple entertainment or bullet-splattering mayhem to capture a mood or place perfectly. Anyone who has wondered at the magic of Paris basking in its languorous summer is in for a definite treat with this sparkling. unpretentious movie.

The cat in question. Gris-Gris. belongs to Chloe (Garance Clavel) who lives with her gay fiatmate Michel (Oliver Py) in a sunny comer of Paris and spends her days being hectored at her work as a beautician at a model agency. When she returns from holiday to find that her closest companion has escaped from the flat of a friendly but highly eccentric old neighbour, she is quite understandably distraught and dragoons almost the whole neighbourhood. including a battalion of old ladies, to search for the errant


Being French. this is. of course. about far more than a simple search for a cat however important he may be. As Chloe unrnasks the raw vitality of her quarter of Paris. she discovers friendships and a meaning to her life far beyond anything she could have dreamed of in her previously solitary existence.

Using a cast made up mostly from non-professionals. Cedric Klapish has created a film which is deep in emotion. light in touch. chock-full of delightful performances and riddled with humorous insight. It is a low key and loving portrait of hidden Paris. shot with such style that it always leaves you satisfied. yet wantingjust a little more. (Thom Dibdin)

When The Cars Away ( [5) (Cedric Klapish. F rance, I996) Garanee Clar'el. Oliver Py. Zinedine Sana/em. 95 mins. Subirirles. F mm Fri 25. Edinburgh: Film/muse.

it i 3‘)

Tivo Days In The Valley: ‘surprlslngly engaging’



That’s LA’s San Fernando Valley, of course, setting for a surprisingly engaging ensemble comedy-drama which starts with a ruthless execution by a pair of contrasting hitmen - one (James Spader) a model of professional cool, the other (nanny Aiello) loading up in the last-chance saloon.

That they’re an ill-matched duo is confirmed by a subsequent double- cross with an exploding car, from which Aiello miraculously escapes, swiftly landing local resident flash-git art dealer (Britain’s Greg Orutwell reprising his vile yuppie from Mike leigh’s Naked) and his long-suffering secretary (Glenne lleadly) in an ongoing hostage crisis. Her sister (Marsha Mason) and a near-suicidal Tinseltown screenwriter (Paul .Mazursky) arrive on cue to make up

the numbers, while the efforts of the dead man’s ex-wife (Teri llatcher) to assist police investigators Jeff Daniels and Eric Stolz are about to pitch the whole caboodle full circle.

Writer-director John llerzfeld’s modest, old-fashioned movie is about little more than character sidebars and the working out of a self- consciously contrived narrative, but it provides more pleasure than most. Topping a cast of disarming performances, Aiello overcomes a tad too many gags at the expense of his toupee to create a touching study in clawed-back dignity.

Goodness, a Hollywood movie with characters you care about and a plot that fits together. Whatever next? Enjoy it while you can. (Trevor Johnston)

Two Days In The Valley (15) (John llerzlelrl, US, 1996) Danny Alello, Jeff Daniels, James Spader, Eric Stolfz. 100 mins. From Frl18. General release.



Alaska: ‘good, tense affalr’

In this children‘s adventure story. teenage brother and sister Sean and Jessie Barnes (Vincent Kartheiser and Thora Birch) go searching for their supply pilot father. missing in the Alaskan wilderness after his light aircraft crashes atop a mountain in bad weather. Jake (Dirk Benedict) flew airliners from Chicago before his wife died and he moved

the family to the remote

coastal village of Quincy.

When the adults give up hope, rebellious Sean swallows his contempt for both the land and. ostensibly. his dad. and sets off with Jessie to guide him through the rigours of kayaking. trekking and climbing. En route. they free a captivity-bound polar bear cub from a hunter's camp. It tags along. with hunters Charlton Heston and Duncan Fraser in cold pursuit. Cub and children share a similar loss. and the story brings in an Eskimo take on inheritance and rites of passage. The theme is fragmentation within the nuclear family. and has less to do with preserving the Earth than with finding one‘s place there.

The veteran hero of such eco-movies as Planer Of The A per, Savlent Green andT/te Omega Man. Heston looks suitably grizzled as the unscrupulous trader. Alaska is ably directed by his son. Fraser. with some fine location work. a very cuddly cub and some exciting stunts. The finale is a good. tense affair and. except for the gung-ho fashion in which the protagonists litter the planet with debris. it’s wholesome entertainment for children and polar bears. (Gio MacDonald) Alaska (PG) (Fraser Heston, US, 1996) Thara Birch, Vincent Kartheiser, Charlton Heston. 109 mins. F ram Fri II. General release.

28 The List 18-31 Oct [996