Beanpole ★★★★

Owes a big debt to Breaking the Waves, but manages to recontextualise von Trier’s tale of insidious misogyny into one of the most rigorous portraits of post-war trauma and general PTSD I’ve come across, without sacrificing any of the barbed politics that come with such a plot. I’m unsure of how the incredibly handsome and immersive photography compliments what is occasionally a fairly contrived plot, but every twist and new revelation carries with it so much weight that I felt my stomach drop in two very unpleasant instances. The symbolism of both Iya and Masha being polar opposites forged from the same crucible is noticeable but powerful, and adds to the texture of the screenplay as a heavy tragedy as well as a deeply human illustration of the indescribable horror of losing a human life (and the way no one can provide recompense for that). I might be underrating this, since certain moments irritated me along the way with their abject cruelty, but everything in the end feels earned. Think I need a pint now.

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