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Melancholia

Title: 
Melancholia
Year: 
2011
Film Format: 
dvd
Director: 
Von Trier, Lars
Language: 
English
Country: 
Denmark
Actors: 
Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Actors: 
John Hurt, Charlotte Rampling
Actors: 
Keifer Sutherland
Film Reviews: 

a potent beauty of a film. As Justine (Kirsten Dunst) prepares for her wedding at a mansion owned by her sister Claire (a superb Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her know-it-all husband, John (Kiefer Sutherland), the planet Melancholia is on a crash course with Earth. Von Trier opens with a surreal hint of things to come, set to Wagner's "Tristan and Isolde," in which Justine – in her bridal gown – seems to sleepwalk through images of brutal destruction. It's then that the director reverts to Justine's wedding to Michael (Alexander Skarsgård), her battles with her bickering, divorced parents, expertly played by John Hurt and Charlotte Rampling, and the palpable tension between Justine and Claire.
The luminous Dunst deservedly won the Best Actress prize at Cannes. Her incomparable performance, a slow accumulation of moods from despair to euphoria, never strikes a false note. In the film's final section, a few weeks after the wedding, Claire dominates the proceedings as Justine gives in to depression. It's here that Gainsbourg shatters Claire's careful mask of calm to show the raging insecurities beneath, prompted by concern for her young son and her husband's pompous insistence that disaster will be averted. Von Trier draws us inexorably into the web of these characters. He loses us in a dream of his own devising. That's filmmaking. Now if he'd only learn to shut up at press conferences.[Rolling Stone]

Film Reviews: 

Melancholia is intimate, surprisingly honest-seeming, and less interested in provocation than in weaving an eerie, troubling spell. Not that Von Trier isn't out for effect, to a degree – he does kick off with nothing less than the End of the World in glorious CGI, our globe pounded to dust as it collides with a bigger planet to the overpowering swell of Tristan und Isolde…This is only part of an extraordinary opening that's one of the strangest, most beautiful things in recent cinema. Melancholia's prelude is a series of tableaux in uncanny hyper-slow motion: a falling horse seeming to deflate like a balloon; Charlotte Gainsbourg carrying a child across a golf course that has turned to sponge at her feet; Kirsten Dunst in bridal white, entangled in ugly grey tendrils. The whole sequence – photographed by Manuel Alberto Claro, visual effects by Peter Hjorth – resembles a Bill Viola video, and is nothing less than mesmerising…The sparer, more sombre Chapter Two is seen largely from Claire's viewpoint – with Gainsbourg, freed of Antichrist's strident overkill, giving a terrifically affecting performance. We learn that the planet Melancholia is hovering overhead, possibly on a collision..Von Trier's detractors may complain that he hasn't really created characters, that he's not seeing beyond himself, and that it's terribly petty-minded for an artist to invoke cataclysm just because he's feeling out of sorts himself. But then Ingmar Bergman made a career of spinning fictions from his own lugubrious worldview, and while Melancholia isn't quite in his league, it's a very Bergmanesque film – severe, graceful, yet mischievous too. Not that the Swedish maestro would ever have resorted to cosmic spectacle of the Michael Bay school. Von Trier, however, is both a showman and a lover of the intimate: only he would pulverise the globe as a preface to a chamber drama about family unhappiness. I don't know if the world will quickly forgive him his Hitler quips, but for Melancholia, I'll even forgive him Antichrist.[jonathan Romney, Independent]

Date Arrival: 
23 January 2012

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