Monday, November 7, 2011


I saw Lars von Trier's "Melancholia" over the weekend. It is a truly remarkable movie. It is so honest that it is sometimes painful to watch. Yet, it is also stunningly beautiful.

I have to admit that it was Alexander and Stellan Skarsgard that got me interested into the movie when I first heard about it. I have a little thing for Swedish cinema, especially after seeing "Puss" over the summer (which merits a post of its own in the near future), that has nothing to do with my addiction to HBO's vampire drama "True Blood." So the two Skarsgards in the cast convinced me to make the leap and disregard the female lead Kirsten Durst (I don't think I will ever get over "Spiderman", even though it was not her fault that the script was extremely badly written). It was certainly worth it, even with his few scenes Stellan manages to steal the screen (similarly to Marvel's blockbuster "Thor"), while his son does a dissent job portraying Durst's one-day husband. I would expect more form the younger Skarsgard when I get to see the new version of "Straw Dogs" later this year. I have to admit, however, that Kirsten Durst is great in this movie. The emotional depth she portrays in the shoes of Justine is amazing. It seems an extremely psychologically exhausting role to play but Durst does it marvelously. The depth of her delivery certainly merits a handful of nominations when the awards season starts if not an Oscar. 

The other great thing about "Melancholia" besides Durst's polished performance is the cinematography. This movie is a stunning visual poetry. It is so beautiful that it certainly will not appeal to the mass audience in the States. The colors and the framing rival that of a Renaissance painting. The beginning is extremely controversial but it is this one scene in which Durst's character is lying on the grass next to a river completely naked that is the real money shot. I cannot remember another scene in recent cinema that works so well in portraying sensuality without any vulgar sexual subtext. 

Von Trier is a real genius and a real auteur. This is the bravest movie I have seen recently (ever since Nolan's classic "Memento") and this includes my 2010 favorites ("The Social Network," "The King's Speech," and "Inception"). It is impossible - the visual and emotional depth of this movie is stunning. Von Trier manages to portray depression with such nuances that you walk out of the cinema feeling slightly off balance, examining carefully your own emotional condition. It is not a feel good movie, not by a long shot but as a movie fan, I adore it because it brought me back the belief in the future of cinema. There are still directors that are ready to go that extra mile and be artist by delivering something new. 

This probably the only film about the end of the world that manages to keep it small and personal. It is so focused that the pain it demonstrates within its small four member environment triumph any other clash of worlds. Yes, in Star Wars: New Hope billion minds screamed and fell silent but in "Melancholia" the emotional torture that this family endures before the inevitable end is so charged that by the end your heart is racing, praying that the pain will end soon. The whole movie delivers a very loaded philosophical question: what hurts more - the actual moment of death or all those moments preceeding it when you now that this is it?

Previous Movie Reviews: Imagine Me and YouVelvet Goldmine

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