User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 45 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 45
  2. Negative: 5 out of 45
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  1. JayH
    Aug 30, 2009
    7
    Emotionally, the film is devastating, and it is certainly not a cheery movie. The performances are rich and deep, Emily Watson is amazing. I was a bit disappointed in the ending however, but it is a very well crafted film.
  2. LauraG
    Sep 22, 2008
    10
    You just can't close your mouth once the movie has finished.
  3. antoñete
    Dec 29, 2006
    10
    Unforgettable masterpiece with a masterclass perfomance by Emily Watson as Bess McNeill.
  4. PatC.
    Oct 14, 2005
    9
    This ambitous film goes exactly where it wants to, but the editing is a bit generous, always an indicator that a film may be taking itself too seriously. Some of the enabling characters take on stereotypical tones, and the entire plot hangs tenuously on a damning indictment of freighter captains. The shift at the end from actuality to religious allegory is a bit of a push. An obviously This ambitous film goes exactly where it wants to, but the editing is a bit generous, always an indicator that a film may be taking itself too seriously. Some of the enabling characters take on stereotypical tones, and the entire plot hangs tenuously on a damning indictment of freighter captains. The shift at the end from actuality to religious allegory is a bit of a push. An obviously flawed movie, but remaining brilliantly undiminished because of its realistic portrayal of community chaos from too much order imposed by and upon the dysfunctional. The film is startling in its splendid acting, eclectic musical interludes, surreal cinematography, and powerful character development. Definitely not a film for all tastes, but dead on for those who have found life to work that way. Expand
  5. BrodyC
    Jun 12, 2005
    10
    This was an incredibly powerful movie that made me feel so uncomfortable in places. Emily Watson should have gotten the oscar that year because this is a brilliant performace. She carries the film from good to brilliant.
  6. Giulia
    Feb 25, 2005
    9
    Long and sad. i like it.
  7. YoonC.
    Dec 5, 2004
    1
    This should be called 'breaking the ba**s'. trier tries so hard to be bold, original, daring, outrageous, and cutting-edge while utterly failing to realize his brand of primitivism's capacity to shock, enliven, or inspire is about 70 yrs too late. trier confuses crudeness for vitality, haphazardness for audacity, and clumisness for truth. rub our faces in the sewage of This should be called 'breaking the ba**s'. trier tries so hard to be bold, original, daring, outrageous, and cutting-edge while utterly failing to realize his brand of primitivism's capacity to shock, enliven, or inspire is about 70 yrs too late. trier confuses crudeness for vitality, haphazardness for audacity, and clumisness for truth. rub our faces in the sewage of retardo emotions and, hey, maybe we'll be cleansed of bourgeois hypocrisy and b.s... stick with imamura instead, who while dragging us thru the mud of life, also had the necessary discipline of means and concentration of vision to allow meaning to evolve and crawl out of the primordial soup of human experience. von trier's films are ultimately all about his infatuation with his punkish rebel self. boring! that so many critics suck up to him is proof that they are geeky rebel-wanna-be's themselves. Expand
  8. BrendanO.
    Oct 30, 2004
    10
    Bold and original.
  9. DaveC.
    Oct 1, 2004
    10
    Breaking The Waves achieves a highly visceral emotional impact. It's a film that articulates universal human truths through its images of primitive human behaviour, our lead heroine's wrenching expressions of grief at the very though of losing her husband, the act of intercourse and what this woman is willing to go through to keep her husband with her. This is a film that forces Breaking The Waves achieves a highly visceral emotional impact. It's a film that articulates universal human truths through its images of primitive human behaviour, our lead heroine's wrenching expressions of grief at the very though of losing her husband, the act of intercourse and what this woman is willing to go through to keep her husband with her. This is a film that forces the viewer to deal with tragedy, to unflinchingly portray the lengths to which the vulnerable are sickeningly exploited. Few other films have shown such raw emotion, such verisimilitude. For this reason, I rate this film amongst the all time greats. Expand
  10. C.Monster
    Jul 18, 2004
    0
    Absolute garbage. The only marginally redeeming scenes in the movie are the scenes where Emily Watson prays to God and plays both parts. There's a difference between fine art and pretention, and this movie's a pretentious exercise in Christianity-bashing and male-bashing, all while making you watch Emily Watson suffer horribly for over two and a half hours. It can not be said Absolute garbage. The only marginally redeeming scenes in the movie are the scenes where Emily Watson prays to God and plays both parts. There's a difference between fine art and pretention, and this movie's a pretentious exercise in Christianity-bashing and male-bashing, all while making you watch Emily Watson suffer horribly for over two and a half hours. It can not be said enough: Garbage. Expand
  11. CharlesH.
    Oct 13, 2003
    9
    A both fascinating and moving film, both qualities that are rare enough alone these days. People interested in psychology should not miss this movie.
  12. Elliott
    Oct 1, 2003
    10
    I have seen a lot of films in my lifetime, but very few have affected me the way that Breaking the Waves has. It is undoubtedly the best film of the 90's, definitely one of the very best films of all time. It is a powerful testament to the unlimited boundaries of love. Truly, truly remarkable.
  13. KathieR.
    Aug 24, 2003
    0
    Yuk!!! so depressing, I couldn't wait for it to be over...
  14. BethC.
    Mar 2, 2003
    10
    Beautiful and compelling...I don't know why the new republic couldn't see the depth of this film. It begs the question "Is this a person with a mental illness? or just a wonderful woman?"
Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 28
  2. Negative: 2 out of 28
  1. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Apr 14, 2014
    90
    The simplified, handheld camerawork and the idea of “cutting for emotion” rather than continuity gets the most out of his actors, who are free to clash and improvise within a scene without worrying about hitting their marks.
  2. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    Mar 19, 2014
    60
    As frustrating as it is rewarding.
  3. Reviewed by: Ali Catterall
    Mar 19, 2014
    100
    Philosophically complex, spiritual but anti-religious, harrowing yet hopeful.