Thursday, 22 September 2011

REVIEW: Melancholia

Dir.: Lars Von Trier
With: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alexander Skarsgard

Never in my life have I had a physical reaction to a film. It seems I can take pretty much anything without wincing too much, be it gore, violence or horror. This is the first time ever when I thought I was going to throw up in the cinema. “Melancholia” is the heaviest and most depressing thing I’ve ever seen. It is so depressing, they need to think of a new word for depressing. This is quite bizarre considering that the whole film looks like an elegant photoshoot at a beautiful country chateau surrounded by greenery, there is no violence and everyone in it seems sedated in a glamorous sort of way. Yet, its atmosphere and music drove me absolutely insane – my heart was beating like mad and I was very nauseous.

The film is about two sisters, Justine (Kirsten Dunst who won the best actress at Cannes this year for this) who is successful on the outside and manic depressive on the inside, she is getting married to Michael (Alexander Skarsgard), and Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who is much more level-headed and ends up orchestrating the whole wedding. The wedding is an absolute disaster – the relatives are all barking mad, Michael is no more alive than a piece of furniture and Justine doesn’t really want to be there. However, this family drama pales in comparison to the trouble in the skies – an unknown turquoise planet called Melancholia may or may not collide with Earth, thus extinguishing all forms of life. This film is an unusual take on the end of the world – there aren’t any screaming masses of people, no theatricality, just steady camera work and calm gazes. Justine is the only one who seems to be happy with the prospect of dying soon, others deal with it much worse. In a way her character reminds me of the girl she played in “The Virgin Suicides”.

I am the last person to say that cinema should always be pleasant and I guess it is a good thing to have this sort of evil genius creating works that can drive you to the darkest places. I am curious as to what Lars has against women – in his films they are either the root of all evil or plain crazy. Here at least the two sisters are the only people who manage to meet Melancholia with some dignity and poise, the men all prove to be auxiliary.  

“Melancholia” is very suffocating, unnecessarily long and, as I said, completely and utterly miserable. I marvel at Lars Von Trier for managing to make his audiences feel whatever he wants them to feel with the aid of elegant music and style. Having said that, I shan’t be watching any of his films for another couple of years. I literally had to go to the nearest park after the cinema, to catch my breath and look at the trees and the birds, life affirming as they are.  

"Melancholia" is out in the UK on the 30th September.

No comments:

Post a Comment