Sunday, November 27, 2011
Lars von Triers is one of my favorite directors. His films are always artistic and challenging. If you are looking for simple escapist entertainment, this is not the film for you. However, if you are up for the challenge, you will be drawn in by the gravitational pull of "Melancholia". To quote R.E.M. "It's the End of The World as We Know it and I feel fine".
The film is divided into two parts. In Part One "Justine" we are introduced to Justine, played by kirsten Dunst, who is suffering from a crippling depression (one could call Melancholia) while at the same time, a planet named Melancholia is on a collison course with Earth. Ms. Dunst is celebrating her wedding to Michael, played by Alexander Skarsgard. They are at the rented castle of her sister and brother-in-law, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg and Keifer Sutherland. It is a lavish "black tie" affair but Ms. Dunst's condition prevents her from any happiness.
Part Two, "Claire" takes place just after the events of the reception and focuses on the impending arrival of Melancholia and it's effects on Justine, her sister Claire, her husband John and their son. Mr. von Triers presents his themes and ideas to the audience through the actions and reactions of both sisters in each half of the film. The counterbalance of Justine's condition and the planet closing in on Earth only serve to strengthen his point of view.
The film is visually stunning, enriched with a wonderful classical soundtrack. Ms. Dunst gives a rich, complex performance and Mr. Sutherland is a surprise in a unique role. Co-starring in minor roles are Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt and Stellen Skarsgard but the film really belongs to Ms. Dunst and Ms. Gainsbourg.
Mr. von Triers is a writer/director with a unique style that is not for everyone but he does continues to surprise with each new film.