As  is the case with all Trier’s movies, Melancholia cannot be labeled. It’s not a sci-fi movie, no matter how much some people would like to prove this. It is mostly a treatise on the effects of depression, a painful insight into the nature of a particular illness. The director goes straight forward and says it all, again and again, in an explicit but well balanced manner: the title of the movie and the colour of the destructive planet are obvious metaphors,while the prologue tells how the story will end. No surprises there. The images of classic paitings are pointing directly to the sources of influence. This time Lars von Trier is not at all cryptic, and yet… mysteries build up.

The Prologue is a montage of images, some symbolic, some announcing what is yet to unfold, some rendered in such extreme slow-motion that movement is barely perceptible. To the music of Richard Wagner’s brooding prelude for Tristan and Isolde, we see ashes falling over Peter Bruegel’s painting “Hunters in the Snow.” Justine, in her white wedding gown, struggles to run, held back by heavy strands of black yarn. A horse collapses under a black, apocalyptic sky. A woman carrying a young boy moves imperceptibly across a golf course, passing by Hole 19. Planets collide.

The performances are superb. Kirsten Dunst’s character, Justine, is often completely unlikable and in the same time she still has an identifiable sympathy and vulnerability to her. As disaster looms, her eyes seem to see purpose. She has already peered into the abyss. Gainsbourg, as Claire, is very much the emotional heart of the film.

The ending to Lars von Trier’s apocalyptic drama is one of the most masterfully executed and unforgettable endings of any movie seen before. Even if we already knew what was going to happen, it does not loose its intensity. Trier’s words, with Justines’s melancholic voice, warned us: “What did you expect? ”  What should we expect from a melancholic person, what should we expect from a movie that opens its meanings in front of our eyes right form the start?

“What did you expect? ”

Lars von Trier creates psychodramas hard to watch and difficult to forget, in the same register as Vincent van Gogh, Hieronimus Bosch or Boris Vian.


~ de AlinaT pe 13/02/2012.

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