Tuesday, 21 February 2012

05/02/2012: Melancholia [2011]

Lars Von Trier may not be the most recognized name in the movie industry, but like David Lynch, when you hear Von Trier's name you know you're in for a vary different kind of movie. Melancholia is the first movie I have seen by Von Trier and it definitely lived up to his name.

Melancholia is split into two chapters, the first titled Justine and the second Claire. This reflects that the movie is about two sisters and their, well rather strained, relationship. What could put more strain on their relationship besides a wedding? Try large newly discovered blue planet hurtling toward earth, and while the scientist say it will miss, not everyone is so sure. So knowing that Lars Von Trier is a big fan of analyzing human relations, he has obviously decided to dial up the scenario by adding a strangely beautiful but no less world ending cosmic crisis.

Nothing like having half your lawn perfectly bathed in blue light and the other half in golden.

So the film consists of two chapters, which I must say, while not independent feel vary much like two different films. The whole planetary collision isn't mentioned until the second chapter, although there are a few hints, with the first half being like the biggest introductory back story ever. Where the second chapter covers a period of a week or so, the first covers only a single night. Justine, played by Kirsten Dunst is celebrating her wedding, organized by her sister Claire. It is quite the extravagant party, held at a 18 hole gold resort, but unfortunately Justine is very depressed and things don't go well.

So let's stress 18 holes several times and then throw in a 19th just to fuck with everyone.

It is clear in this chapter, Von Triers fondness for the studying of human interaction and relationships. Kirsten Dunst puts on quite the performance as Justine and Charlotte Gainsbourg already  having starred in Von Triers Antichrist, does a great job as her sister Claire. Justine is actually quite a hate-able character, but this is undoubtedly on purpose. However the first chapter of Melancholia was not one I particularly enjoyed and was vary confusing, not caring to really explain anything.

I'm not sure "enjoyed" us quite the right word for my feelings towards the second part either, but I liked it much better. It focuses on Claire's family as they cope with the possible end of the world, throwing in downer Justine to keep the mood depressed, crazy and off it's axis on the 18 hole gold course apparently they owned. However as the world crumbles around them I was left with two mind blazing questions that were never answered.

1. Why was there a 19th hole on the explicitly stated multiple times 18 hole course?
2. Why oh why were they building a god damn Tipi?!?! (I literally yelled this at the screen).

Well let's all sit in the magical stick Tipi and hope it protects us from the angry old planet.

So what is my final opinion on Melancholia. Well after watching it I was unsure whether I had wasted two hours or if it had somehow been an enriching cinema masterpiece. Two weeks later I am leaning towards the later, and while I haven't run out to watch anymore of Lars Von Triers films, I haven't sworn off them either. Melancholia isn't everyone's movie but if you enjoy Von Trier or are looking for some kinda psychoanalysis of human relations this film should satisfy.

Melancholia IMDB

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