Breaking the Waves

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +1 1/2

Content: -3

This strange art film, set in a remote seaside village of Scotland during the 1970s, centers on Bess (Emily Watson), a deeply devout Christian. She's ecstatic because the church approves her marriage to an outsider, Jan (Stellan Skarsgaard), a burly offshore oil rig crew member who enjoys earthy pleasures. Bess falls apart emotionally when her husband goes back to the rig and she prays every day for God to bring him home. It's not long before Jan has a terrible accident and comes home a paraplegic. The mentally fragile Bess blames herself. Jan begs his wife to have sexual relations with other men and then describe them to him. At first Bess refuses, but prays again to God and imagines that He tells her to prove her love by obeying Jan. From then on, it's all downhill for the doomed but trusting Bess. This sick, twisted love story is receiving critical acclaim, but the average moviegoer will find Breaking the Waves too shocking to appreciate its "art."

Ridicule of religion is almost as shocking as Jan's request for Bess to prostitute herself. An austere, rigid Calvinistic church shows no mercy for sinners. Women cannot participate in church meetings or attend funerals. Bess' blind faith is uplifting but misguided. When she prays, she imagines God's answers, but they reflect her own naive thoughts. None of her sexual behavior is motivated by lust or desire for money. Ex-communicated from the church and locked out by her family, she continues her depravity. Graphic sex scenes include breast and rear nudity along with explicit fondling and conversations. Bess attempts to seduce her doctor in his office, stripping completely nude. She also gropes a stranger on a bus and goes to a pool hall to pick up men for sex. On the oil rig, full frontal male nudity is shown in a shower room. Ten obscenities and seven regular profanities add to the film's tasteless content. How such a morally offensive theme can be marketed as entertainment is a sad reflection of our culture.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
October Films, 45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: Many (10) times - s-word 4, f-word 2, other 4

Profanity: Several (5) times - Regular (J-C 1, for C sake 3, G-d 1)

Violence: Few times - Moderate (boys throw rocks at woman, man threatens woman with knife, woman's bloodied corpse shown)

Sex: Several times (graphic, with and without nudity; husband and wife, woman with strangers)

Nudity: Many times (full frontal male and female, rear male and female)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Husband and wife engage in phone sex; woman gropes stranger on bus, attempts to seduce doctor, offers herself to men

Drugs: Few times (drinking at wedding party, beer drinking)

Other: Woman's faith becomes perverted; church members portrayed as unforgiving, insensitive and hypocritical

Running Time: 158 minutes
Intended Audience: Cynics

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