spoilers part 1: if you don’t know what this movie is about AT ALL, do not read this
At first, I was irritated by the bland colors and the raw, choppiness of the cinematography. The off-focus and slow shots were at times more ambiguous than purposeful. Yet despite the rough technical aspects, I still found myself drawn into the movie because of how it pushed the emotional intensity to the limit. Once the tragedy in the plot hit, it was almost agonizing to watch because I knew (from listening to the soundtrack beforehand) how the movie was going to end. At times, the director seemed to revel in destroying and torturing the main character, played by Bjork. Bjork’s performance was flawless, as she immersed herself (maybe a little too) deeply into the role of Selma. I can’t say that I loved the film, as it wasn’t easy to watch and yet it still lingers in my mind…
The movie is also troubling because of it’s portrayal of American life through a European lens. Selma works non-stop to pay for medical bills (while in Europe, the government pays for health care). Her neighbors, a seemingly charming couple, are trapped in the vicious cycle of consumerism. The husband who is a police officer (gun control?) talks of suicide (high rates in the US) and eventually steals from Selma (corruption of law enforcement and government).
spoilers part 2: don’t read if you haven’t watched
This all leads to the ultimate American obscenity: capital punishment (The only developed country in the world that still practices it.) I guess this is partly why the movie frightened me… Bjork’s portrayal of Selma during the last confinement scenes were so intensely real. It was almost uncomforable to sit through the ending where they hang her. From her finger tapping, to her screaming, her emotional expression brought up compassion beyond comprehension. It wasn’t pretty, and it certainly wasn’t meant to be. It was very real, and that is what made it so haunting.