Breaking the waves

breaking-the-waves-posterInternational English language romantic drama from 1996.
Starring: Emily Watson, Stellan Skarsgård, Katrin Cartlidge
Director: Lars Von Trier
Writers: Lars Von Trier, Peter Asmussen
Bechdel test: Fail


Bess lives in a religious cult somewhere in Scotland in the early 70’s. She marries the outsider Jan and when he has an accident on the oil rig where he works Bess comes to believe that God tells her how to save him.


I have set a new record; I fell asleep four times during this movie. I did not find anything of what I saw on screen interesting or entertaining. Quite early in the movie it became clear to me that I did not care what happened to these people. I have tried to figure out the reason, but have fallen a bit short.

It could be that I did not get to know the characters well enough to empathize. The movie did after all go directly into the action, but several other times this has not lead me to care less for the characters.

Or maybe it was that they lead such different lives from me that I could not relate to their situation or actions, but after all, I can watch Star Trek and care what happens to the crew of the Enterprise, so that is probably not the reason.

In short, I have not been able to come up with an explanation for my lack of interest in the movie, nut maybe with some more time to digest the experience, it will become clearer to me.


The acting was good, and the main character Bess, played by Emily Watson, stood out as a stellar performance.

The story was unusual, but had both twists and turns, and plenty of action and drama. So why was I not entertained?

My temporary theory is that the answer lies in the storytelling. It was slow, kind of mundane and took it’s time to make each point in the plot. But this might be an opinion I will revise later.

I’m afraid this captain’s log leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

“Breaking the waves” did not have the Bechdel test performed on the Bechdel site, so I looked for the conditions to pass the test while watching the movie. I could not find a scene where to named female characters that had a conversation about something other than a man. Maybe not so surprising as part of the story is that Bess is to occupied by her husband and she centers her life around him. For more about the Bechdel test and some more about women in movies, read my post about Hollywood and women.


I did not enjoy “Breaking the waves”. It was simply incredibly boring for some reason.


I would not recommend this movie to anyone. It is unusually sleep inducing.

Over to you

If you’ve recently seen “Breaking the waves” or you’re watching along with my year of movies, please leave a comment below with your thoughts on the movie or note down your opinion somewhere else.

29 movies down. 336 to go.

If you want to get “Breaking the waves” from Amazon, here is a link for that. Although I don’t see why you would.

Tomorrow’s movie is “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?“. Get some more information about this movie and the other movies on my watch list this week on the upcoming movies page. If you’re new to this site and are wondering why I’m watching a movie every day for a year, read more about my experiment.

Until next time; live long and prosper.

One thought on “Breaking the waves

  1. Pingback: The Red shoes | Dreamberry

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