MIFF: MELANCHOLIA (2011)

25 Jul

By

Melancholia is the one film Lars Von Trier has made that he doesn’t like. ‘Too Hollywood’, apparently. I’m not sure if Von Trier has seen a Hollywood film or just had one described to him, but I suppose he sees this as a sequel of sorts to Michael Bay’s Armageddon. I doubt many others will feel the same way.

The film beings as Earth careers into the planet Melancholia (this isn’t a spoiler: without that foreshadowing the film just wouldn’t work the way it does). As this overture ends we arrive, some time back, at the wedding reception of Justine (Kirstin Dunst), which begins as a humorously chaotic party and descends into sadness as the bride unravels in a manic episode.

The second half shifts the focus to Justine’s sister, Clair (Charlotte Gainsberg), who attempts to care for the now thoroughly depressed Justine. As it becomes clear that Melancholia (which has emerged from behind the sun – subtle huh?) will destroy Earth, Claire succumbs to her own existential mania, and things generally begin to unravel.  The falcon cannot hear the falconer. Things fall apart. Et cetera.

Melancholia is surprisingly un-bombastic, both for the director and for a plot concerning the end of life in the universe. What begins as a high concept film with an ensemble cast ends with just three people, alone in a world that is both beautiful and highly unsettling. While I don’t buy into Von Trier’s dark ideology, this is a film that will likely stay with its audience, and is worth it for the imagery alone.

Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Keither Sutherland reprising his role as Jack Bauer.

8/10.

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