Saturday, 1 October 2011

Melancholia, dir/wr. Lars Von Trier, st. Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland

Melancholia is a metaphysical, Solarisian slice of sci-fi, predictably poetically realised by Von Trier. In tungsten night-time coppers and over-exposed blues he takes us through this exploratory journey from crippling depression to all-out armageddon, or is it the other way around, for here, we are introduced to the apocalypse itself, before the people facing it. Kirsten Dunst gives an absorbingly persuasive performance as Justine, whose melancholia may be either the cause, or effect, of the vast astral body in threatening proximity to Earth. It's a term that's bandied around with little care, but Von Trier is a true visionary director; there is a fanatical level of detailed intricacy in his composition and framing that result in truly breathtaking sequences, be it the film's hyper-slo-mo introductory montage of cataclysmic events set to Wagner's Tristan und Isolde or the finale's astonishing moment of annihilation, these are the moments that stay with you. Less successful is the more human side of the drama, in which once again, Von Trier asks us to buy into extraordinary characters within ordinary environments - it never quite rings true and only serves to bring us out of the world he so painstakingly creates. Exquisitely shot and adroitly performed by a uniformly excellent ensemble cast, Melancholia is a bewitchingly sombre treat.