Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)

Melancholia

It’s the end of the world, and I feel – a bit glum actually.

I’ve not seen any of von Trier’s stuff before, so this is another step into the dark for me. I’ve heard about his idiotic behaviour at Cannes; I don’t think you should necessarily judge a piece of art by the morals or good sense of the artist, even if the antics of some of them nonetheless can permanently disfigure their works (Oasis’ perfectly decent first album is now a complete no-go zone for me, since I just don’t like them).

So, this is a small scale, low key end of days as the eponymous planetoid crashes into earth (hardly a spoiler, since this is the extended opening scene) as experienced by two sisters, Justine and Claire (Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg) in the palatial country home owned by Claire’s husband, John. Both sisters are subject to the psychological version of the title, making them alternately frustrating characters. I can’t remember seeing the infuriatingly self-destructive selfishness of depression put on film so well before.

It’s not a realistic story but it’s different, the acting is solid and the cinematography frequently gorgeous. I’m not entirely convinced by it – I suspect von Trier’s playing with both his characters (with some exploitation of Dunst perhaps, too) and with us as an audience but there is a nice sense of honest feeling in the performances and quite a few little laughs – much of the film is taken up with Justine’s doomed wedding to Michael (Alex Skarsgard), which manages to be amazingly opulent and recognisably excruciating. I certainly enjoyed it and I intend giving von Trier another try.

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One response

  1. Pingback: FILM SPOTLIGHT: MELANCHOLIA « thefilmgoer

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