Melancholia (2011) / Lars von Trier (dir.)
I just watched this (with a friend that ironically enough, is about to get married).
SPOILER/ALERT (I guess)
I’m not a fan of reviews or whatnot — to be honest, reviews are sort of pointless because ultimately, no matter how much knowledge one may have on the subject in question it really all ends with how one personally feels towards it. Which leaves much to be asked for in the realm of impartiality. So this is just my feelings about the movie:
I am (usually) very interested in big artistic, interesting concepts — especially those that somehow, surprisingly, slip into pop culture. I can admire, respect, and usually end up enjoying when artists foray into spaces and ideas that are new and interesting — whether it be sonically, visually, or otherwise. So I went into this film really interested in what I might encounter. I had only heard a few really good things about it. Of course there was all the regular hoop-lah about the pretentiousness, or even worse the confusion of it all; mainly from the regular schmo that visits the cinema these days. Which, needless to say, has as little influence on my decision to watch the film as any review would.
The film, in general, was definitely a very interesting visual experience. Although, the opening was a bit much even for me. I do not mind at all what was used in the opening, and how it harkened back to a certain style of film — but I would have just preferred to see the images when they happen later on and not as part of some (extremely) unnecessary slo-mo opening. That it is an artistically beautiful film does not necessarily excuse the fact that it indulges in such contrived techniques. The rest of the film however, is beautifully shot.
The characters on the other hand, well — I was completely devoid of any sort of emotional attachment or sympathy for them. The most I felt the entire film was for the poor schmuck of Michael (Alexander Skarsgard), who suffers pretty much the most devastating effects of what I can only guess was Justine’s (Kirsten Dunst) complete and total depression and disillusionment with the world. But I felt nothing towards her, or her equally fucked-up sister, Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg). This, though, has nothing to do with the fact that Dunst and Gainsbourg both provide some really excellent performances. So I therefore attribute the blame to the director. There’s a good portrayal of ideas, but not an adequate delving into those ideas to provide a richer, more emotional and intellectual consideration of the themes he was trying to convey. I am not necessarily interested in more melodrama, or dramatic emotion for its own sake, but I find that in any piece of art there should at least be some emotional attraction. It’s all very cold, especially for it being a surprisingly intimate sort of affair. Even if it does explore worldly ideas as well. And the whole metaphor in general is slightly over the top and in your face.
It certainly left my poor soon-to-be-married friend a bit more crazy and worried than she had been. But this all is not to say that I think you should pass up an opportunity to view the film. I think it is wildly interesting, the theme of depression that permeates the film is incredibly suffocating, and the unexpected science-fiction background and how the characters react to it is certainly interesting and fun to see in a film of this nature. I just wish I could have loved it. But for that I would have had to love, or even sympathize with the characters. And I imagine that is something that would be hard to do in any von Trier movie. Though I certainly have not had the opportunity to test that conjecture, yet.