Coming off a very embarrassing appearance at Cannes, Melancholia stirred up quite the controversy due to director Lars von Trier’s (misunderstood) anti-Semitic remarks. Gossip aside, I generally enjoy Lars von Trier’s films - especially his documentary “The Five Obstructions” in which Jørgen Leth is forced to remake his short films in bizarre and challenging ways by the request of von Trier. What really stood out for me though wasn’t Dogville or Manderlay, or even his television show The Kingdom (which is very Twin Peaks-y). It was Antichrist.
I’ve discussed Antichrist on my blog before. A film so visceral and disturbing that it required an almost immediate re-viewing on my behalf to understand what the hell I had just sat through. I did fall in love with the film though - despite the shock and awe of the whole thing. The trailer for Melancholia made it seem like it wouldn’t be as dark of a story as Antichrist, and although that may be true, it didn’t stop the film from being as shocking in a completely different way.
The film follows Kirsten Dunst’s character at her wedding, we can see that her and her husband are very much in love and excited about being married but their moods change drastically when we meet their family. The film follows the difficult relationships and interactions between the characters and spends nearly half of its runtime on drawing the audience in and making them care(?) about these characters. This is then played off by the concept of a rogue planet coming into close contact with Earth, which many fear will wipe out all life and kill everyone.
I found the entire film incredibly depressing, constantly wearing me out and draining me emotionally. Every scene was torturous. The characters were played so successfully that I wanted to shut it off just out of anger in their successful performance. All this being said, I loved it. Thoroughly loved it. It did take a couple days to register this approval however, as the content in the film is still so depressing that I wasn’t sure if I had liked the film, or the fact that it was over…
I highly recommend checking this one out. It’s a very “arty” film. There’s almost absolutely no humour involved and it may steal a part of your sanity - but shouldn’t a film impact you in such a way?