Monday, December 12, 2011


The film begins with a prologue, consisting of slow motion and still shots from the film's following two acts over haunting classical chords. We then descend into the first segment of the film which shows the wedding of an unhappy young woman (Kirsten Dunst), amidst the sea of equally unhappy family members and guests set at a posh country club. Following the inevitably disastrous ceremony, the final part of the film takes place two weeks later at the estate of the woman's sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her priggish scientist husband (Kiefer Sutherland) who is taking delight in witnessing a recently discovered planet and tracking the alarming dance of death it is performing with the Earth. "Melancholia" is the work of Lars Van Trier, the Danish director who's harrowing films are often confrontational and convoluted. With this current work, however, he has combined his breathtakingly beautiful panoramic visuals combined with his often used woman in distress scenario, and crafted his finest work since 1996's "Breaking the Waves". Kirsten Dunst is excellent in her role as an intelligent yet anguished young woman, digging deep and finding the core of her character's pain. Charlotte Gainsbourg, who is surprisingly reunited with Von Trier following her tortuous of "Antichrist", is also very fine as a controlling perfectionist who begins to unravel in the face of doom. Von Trier has always been a filmmaker down to his bones, but his acerbic nature often interferes with his work, be it in his screenplays or press interviews. Despite the debacle at Cannes and the harsh nature of some of his recent work, "Melancholia" is a work of true artist crafting one of his best works in spite of himself.