*There is a good chance there will be a couple of SPOILERS in this review.
The other day I posted my preview of Upside Down starring Kirsten Dunst. In that post I’d mentioned she hasn’t really been in anything of merit for the past few years. Nothing has changed with seeing Lars von Trier’s Melancholia last night.
This movie is not for everyone. Myself included. I’ve been called a snob about film and cinema before, and I embrace that. I enjoy being a bit of a snob, I like being able to enjoy a film for reasons like acting abilities, scenery, set design, costuming, etc. and being able to explain myself for said reasons. But as beautiful as moments in this film were, nothing was able to drag me out of the depression that Melancholia forces upon the viewer.
When I saw the preview for Melancholia last week when my friend asked if I’d like to see it, I thought it seemed interesting enough. Check it;
When you view the trailer it doesn’t seem like it’s a ‘End of the World Movie’ But it is. It is a blatant, albeit, creative-(ish) re-imagining of such films as Armageddon and Deep Impact only there’s no blowing up a planet that is taking stars out of major constellations in some of the space scenes. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention there’s lot of space scenes? They distract from the sadness, only by giving you more stuff to be sad about. Also, Melancholia is the name of the aforementioned planet that’s smashing through the galaxy, not just a clever play on the title on how you’re going to feel for hours after seeing the film.
A brief synopses of Melancholia is this, a horribly dysfunctional family gathers to celebrate the marriage of a really nice guy and a seemingly nice girl. During the party the bride sees a star in the sky she hadn’t seen before. She starts going nuts, sleeps with a different guy instead of her husband on her wedding day, the groom and his parents leave, there is much sadness and mopeyness on the part of the bride. Daddy issues and Mommy issues abound and we see part two. There is no definite expose on how much time has passed between part one (the horribleness) and part two (the horribleness part 2). You have to assume it’s been at least a couple of weeks because the once blushing bride (Kirsten Dunst) is now pallid and run down to a degree of depression I haven’t seen since Atonement. Then you see Dunst get nursed back to health by her sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg) while we learn that the star is actually a planet that has been hiding from us behind the sun is on a course that will bring it in to do a ‘pass by’ of Earth. And then you just get more and more depressed as Kirsten now ‘knows things’ like how many beans were in a jar at the wedding as part of a raffle that no one actually won. Weird. And the spiral never ends, you just get more and more and more depressed and then the movie ends.
I wouldn’t say I hated this movie. There are many things I disliked about it though. For one, what can only be described as the prologue was 15 minutes of footage that would have been more appealing at the end of the film. So it was long, and it was also devoid of dialogue, and it was accompanied by this awful violin driven fugue ripe with transitions from Major to Minor keys with a shotgun blast of tri-tones thrown in to make the listener cringe.
The second major problem was the fact that the entire movie was shot in shaky-cam style. There was a sign posted outside of the auditorium stating that if you’re prone to motion sickness, Melancholia may not be the right choice to see. There were few reprieves from the shaky-cam and when we did get breaks it was during scenes with little to no action thus making you more bored than you were sick.
The third major issue was the dialogue. Directed and Written by Copenhagen, Denmark native Lars von Trier, the film doesn’t translate well. Had it been presented in Dutch it probably would have been fantastic. There are few foreign writers that make it big writing English screenplays. There’s a reason they say English is the hardest language to learn and even harder to write. There are too many nuances that come easily for native English speakers that people who learn English as a second language don’t always grasp. Many lines were ill-suited to the scenarios in which they were presented.
A final thought on Melancholia is this, aside from the bad, this is a very impressive new look at an imminent doom story. It’s beautiful in all the right places, including a scene of Kirsten Dunst bathing in the light of Melancholia as it draws close enough to shed more light than our own moon. As well as almost every shot where Trier shows the Moon, the Sun, and Melancholia all lined up across the sky.
I fell in love with a number of the scenes in this film, but beauty alone won’t keep me interested enough to recommend this movie to too many people. If you have a chance, and if you want to spend two hours watching a film that makes you feel like you’ve been watching for 7 hours. . . See Melancholia.
A final thought on Melancholia. This should be made into a picture book, with screen frames from the film as the pictures. And have no words, just the pictures. If this were done, it would be amazing.
Melancholia (2011) Directed and Written: Lars von Trier. Starring; Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling, Alexander Skarsgard, Brady Corbet, Cameron Spurr, John Hurt, Stellan Skarsgard, Udo Kier.