Wednesday, 4 January 2012
Danish provocateur par excellence Lars von Trier loves deconstructing popular genres, and then having a wry chuckle at the expense of his audience. Who can forget what he did with the much-loved ‘musical’ genre with Dancer in the Dark. He set his eyes on science-fiction this time around, and has come with Melancholia which, like all his movies, has split the audience right down the middle, despite, quite interestingly, being among his least controversial works. This poignant, downbeat, wonderfully enacted and beautifully composed film is a superb meditation on mental illness and apocalypse. The two principal characters are a pair of sisters – Justine (Kirsten Dunst), who’s suffering from clinical depression, and Clair (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a seemingly stable person who’s essentially a patient of hyper-anxiety. The movie has been divided into two parts – while the first deals with a grandiose get-together arranged by Clair and his millionaire husband John (Kiefer Sutherland) in order to celebrate Justine’s marriage, the second deals with the effect that a fast approaching planet has on the two sisters and their relationships, both with each other and with John who is an amateur astronomy enthusiast. Like his previous film Antichrist, this too opens with a superb opening sequence wherein a series of hyperstylized montages, shot in slow-motion, tell us how the movie ends – viz. in the form of a glorious inter-planetary collision, thus ensuring that the sci-fi aspect is used as nothing more than a plot device to accentuate the profoundly human story rather than having suspense and thrills play any roles whatsoever in driving it forward. Look out for noteworthy cameos by John Hurt and Charlotte Rampling as the sisters’ dysfunctional parents, and Stellan Skarsgard as Justine’s malicious boss.
Director: Lars von Trier
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Sci-Fi