Dir. Lars Von Trier
The movie Melancholia (2011) by Lars von Trier is an odd one. It embraces its title to the fullest, providing the viewer with the deepest sense of melancholy and making everything you might do after the viewing pointless and burdening (hipsters and scene kids will really enjoy it - “It's sooo dark and meaningful, but you common people just won't get it”). Also, it will surely be a favourite amongst the snobby types, as the camera work is actually stunning; I still can't get the opening shots out of my head and it has been about a month since I watched it, which means this review was supposed to be ready 3 weeks ago, oops! Anyway...
The camera work is captivating going from long steady shots in the prologue and introducing the viewer to the emotional backdrop of the film. It then goes to shaky-cam in Part I, showing just how emotionally uncomfortable Justine (Kirsten Dunst) was in the setting created it seems not for her, but for Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg); I will get to characters/archetypes later. In Part II, the camera slows down, and the viewer finds him/herself watching Claire trying to get adjusted to Justine's realm. When she realizes that she can't and her fear takes over, the cameraman was nowhere to be found, so the camera was taken over by a dude filming the next apocalyptic action movie next door. I'm dead serious... no I'm not, but that's what it looks like.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the light and the colours and all the other stuff that people don't pay attention too. It was all very atmospheric and with all the depressive end-of-the-world stuff happening, it kinda sorta looked like The Virgin Suicides: Part 2. Which brings me to Kirsten, who no doubt regains her crown as the Queen of Indie. The next logical step would be to make a movie with her in a coma for a good half of it. She fits her role perfectly, with her melancholy stares, and cute dimples that suggest that there is a whole range of emotion just beneath them.
Here we go! On the ground scheme of things, the main characters of Melancholia represent the three archetypes of human nature. The primitive nature of humans in Claire – the mother fearful for her child; the mystic and unreasonable in Justine – the visionary, detached from socially accepted standards of behaviour; and the logical in John – the scientist sure of his calculations. Leo, the child, plays a role of a bond that keeps all of these characters/aspects together. In Lars's eyes, in the most extraordinary circumstances there is no space for logic, there is only the primitive and the magical that will guide us through whatever there is to come, connected by the pure and innocent.
END OF INTERMISSION!
The plot of this film starts developing pretty late in the movie. The whole Part I is very uneasy and awkward and a torture to sit through, but I think it pays off in the end, because it helps to develop the main characters. So buy yourself a pack of cigarettes and sit through it! Part II is where all the “action” happens in the movie, and if you had the courage (and enough nicotine) to get to Part II, you will enjoy it.
Overall, I would recommend this movie to:
-Kirsten Dunst fans
-People who like aesthetically pleasing imagery
-People who like seeing lots of references to other pieces of art (oh, I meant hipsters)
Till next time!