It’s one of those tortoise-like films, that hinges on the audience’s investment. Whatever it is you’re willing to put in - will come back to you, ten-fold, in an excruciating manner. Dancer in the Dark is not only von Trier’s musical, it’s also his tragedy.
Let me point that out - this is a musical tragedy. In the great history of the stage, there’s been a divide between the comedy and tragedy. When musicals became popular they were entirely comedic (the Hollywood Foreign Press still divides films into Drama or Musical/Comedy), but Dancer in the Dark is never funny. Not once. Sure, Selma Jezkova (Bjork) is adorable sometimes, but it’s cute - not funny. The film has one of those endings that tells you its coming, you’re always aware of where the story is headed, and by the time it comes to its conclusion, you’ll want to do anything in your power to make it stop. But you can’t.
It’s the kind of film that sort of happens to you.
(and the music is composed by Bjork and Thom Yorke)