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Melancholia - Film Review

Home > Sydney > Cinema | Movie Reviews
Published December 12th 2011
Image courtesy of Yahoo website Movie stills

Melancholia'. You know, Lars von Trier's latest work which appeared at Cannes. More talked about however, was von Trier's appearance at a press conference for the film where he pulled a 'Mel Gibson', admitting he was a Nazi, and 'understanding' Hitler, but we will move on from that one right now.

'Melancholia' is the latest film from Writer and Director Lars von Trier, which follows the relationship between two sisters, Justine and Claire, as mysterious blue planet Melancholia threatens to collide with the Earth.

You may remember Claire, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg, appearing in one of von Trier's earlier works 'Antichrist' as 'She' in 2009. Disturbing, completely. But that's what you get in a Lars von Trier film.

Not your typical 'end of the world' Hollywood blockbuster, 'Melancholia' is more of a dark and haunting experience. Not to mention long, running at 136 minutes.

The opening credits are a series of beautiful shots, I'll admit, which all unfold and make sense as the film progresses. A little too drawn out for my liking, but beautiful nonetheless, ending with a scribbled down shot of the title, and the writer/director's name. Arty.

The music in the opening credits is almost unbearable, and I was frustrated furthermore by the fact that this music is repetitive throughout the film.

Be it some sort of representation of the continuous drama and uncertainty shown throughout the film, I don't really care. It got under my skin. I'm sure there are people out there that will say it represented something I didn't even pick up on. Still, please. Was it necessary? It was much too dramatic, largely annoying, and almost had me wanting to exit the theatre. Some of the shots alone were beautiful enough for complete silence. The soundtrack ruined this film for me. Utterly. I can only imagine purchasing that one on iTunes. Tracks one to one on repeat. I'd rather be stuck in a room filled with water, with a white pointer.

Kirsten Dunst plays the role of Justine, and the first part of the film revolves around her character on her wedding day. On a day which is meant to be one of love and happiness, what we see is an unsure, sad, and lost Justine, who wanders through her wedding day faking smiles, lost in thought.

Might I add, the first scene with the limo, in which Justine and her husband try to turn a corner in it is the best part of the whole film. You might want to take off after this and come back two minutes before the end. Because the middle is a big black hole of a mess.

Part one should have been called 'The Wedding' not 'Justine'. I felt like part one went for 130 of the 136 minutes. It was completely unnecessary. What it feels like is a badly shot wedding video.
The majority of the film is free hand. The shaky camera work made me feel like I wanted to throw up. I know, I know, 'It represents the shaky world of the characters, and the chaos in their lives'. I really dislike when an un-appealing part of a film is turned around to be 'powerfully representing' something. As if the film is clever, smart, and artistic. It's like when someone splashes some paint on a canvas and calls it art. It doesn't work for me. Please don't shake your camera and then feel free to call it 'art-house'.

So once we get over the mess of part one, we move on to a slightly better part two, titled 'Claire'. This part revolves around her, Justine's sister who is aware of 'Melancholia', but unsure of its path.

Claire is a simple, and realistic character who I think stands out over Dunst's performance.

However, what isn't realistic is the fact that one sister has an American accent, and the other is English. There was no explanation for this, nor was there an explanation of how two 'sisters' can look so completely different. It's almost laughable.

So of course, we sit through this mess of a movie hoping for some massive 'end of the world' dramatic ending, and wondering a little if Melancholia will collide with Earth or not. You hope and pray that you've been sitting through 136 minutes of film that ends up being totally worth it just for that scene.

But honestly, I wish I had spent that 136 minutes playing grip ball in the sunshine on a 30 degree day.

When I walked out, someone behind me used the word 'powerful'. Now that made me snicker. Either I didn't get it, or the film was so bad, it made this particular peson think crazy, crazy un-true things.

Just goes to show how an opinion can really differ from one person to the next. So maybe decide this one for yourself and let me know.

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