Melancholia (Denmark/ Sweden/ France/ Germany, 2011)

917JWA_lPHL._AA1500__event_mainDirected by: Lars Von Trier. I’ve seen a few of these Von Trier jams so far, so I have a certain set of expectations. After Dancer in the Dark, Dogville, Breaking the Waves and Antichrist, I’m planning to be bummed out, to witness some rape, perhaps mutilation, but for the film to be a fairly impressive, utterly unique, exploration towards the outer reaches of humanity’s most nihilistic emotional capacity. This one definitely fits the above criteria, as well as edging a bit further towards the supernatural/magical realist kind of tendencies that seem to be a bit more evident in the latter films than the earlier ones I’ve seen. No talking animals here, but this end of the world scenario is pretty fucking brilliant, facing head on that deliciously elusive topic of spirituality/irrationality versus our complete and utter assurance of science and reason’s ability to provide us with answers in the face of the unfathomable, uncaring universe. Those heavily stylized shots—those little portraits of suspended figures, in extreme slow motion—are they in the story? Are they meant to be taken literally or figuratively? Are we meant to interpret the whole film like that? Perhaps. Either way, those shots of the planet coming in are some of the best uses of CGI I’ve seen, and provide one of the most terrifying scenarios I’ve seen on film. It looks unrealistic and otherworldly, but precisely what would a realistic rendering of such a cataclysmic event look like to human eyes? And at any rate, the acting in this film is fantastic from top to bottom—Kirsten Dunst and Kiefer Sutherland are as good I’ve ever seen them anywhere, and Von Trier alumni Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stellan Skarsgård are great too. I might like this movie less for its typical Von Trier stuff—the extended first half showing the insufferable wedding party for this girl who very obviously doesn’t want any of this shit, and her nice guy husband trying his best to understand, as well as that subplot about the slimey boss trying to get something out of her that we aren’t really made privy to—all of that stuff grabs me a lot less than the second half, the relationship between the sister and her ultra rationalist husband—Charlotte and Kiefer. Anyway, this is a beautiful film overall and I’d recommend it to anyone.

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2 responses to “Melancholia (Denmark/ Sweden/ France/ Germany, 2011)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2013 | Offhand Reviews·

  2. Pingback: Hidden Figures (USA, 2016) | Offhand Reviews·

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