Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Melancholia (Rhoades)

“Melancholia” Aims
At Being Depressing

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Feeling low? About 1 in 10 people suffer from depression. This mood disorder is characterized by sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness.
Director Lars von Trier admits that he suffers from clinical depression. Matter of fact, that condition gave him the idea for his latest film “Melancholia.” It’s a somewhat depressing film.
However, sometimes you have a good reason to feel depressed. Despite the accolades his new film received at Cannes (and star Kirsten Dunst being named Best Actress), Von Trier made a faux pas, jokingly comparing himself to Hitler and claiming he was a Nazi in an interview.
“What can I say? I understand Hitler, but I think he did some wrong things, yes, absolutely. ... He’s not what you would call a good guy, but I understand much about him, and I sympathize with him a little bit.”
The Cannes officials didn’t share his “Danish sense of humor” and banned him from the film festival. Now Von Trier has announced he will never give another interview.
That’s enough to make you depressed.
You can see what it’s all about. “Melancholia” is currently sharing Von Trier’s anxieties with audiences at the Tropic Cinema.
His film is divided into three parts:
An Introduction tells the entire story from a cosmic viewpoint, mindful to some of Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life.” We see outer space, we see a bride, we see planets collide.
Part I is titled “Justine,” after the moody character played by Kirsten Dunst. We see her on the eve of her wedding, putting on a happy face with her new husband Michael (Alexander Skarsgård of TV’s “True Blood”) pretending to appreciate the largess of her brother-in-law (Keifer Sutherland) who footed the bill. Her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) acts as her caretaker, trying to keep her on schedule for the cake cutting and avoiding internecine warfare between their loopy father (John Hurt) and bitter mother (Charlotte Rampling). But before the night’s over Justine has lost a husband, told off her boss, and had a sexual encounter with a young guest. No one seems particularly distracted by reports that an errant planet called Melancholia is heading for Earth.
Part II is titled “Claire,” after the sister. Claire is growing more anxious that this runaway planet might collide with Earth. Her husband keeps assuring their son (Cameron Spurr) that it will by-pass them, but she isn’t so sure. The more anxiety this approaching planet causes the family, the more tranquil Justine becomes. In the end, the sisters have swapped caretaker roles, with Justine becoming the calming influence while they await disaster.
That the world comes to an end (cut to black) is no secret. Von Trier showed that in the Introduction “so the audience would not be distracted by the suspense of not knowing the resolution.”
What’s the theme of “Melancholia”? A therapist once told Von Trier that depressive people tend to act more calmly than others under heavy pressure, because they already expect bad things to happen. He developed the idea with actress Penelope Cruz, but a scheduling conflict caused her to be replaced by Kirsten Dunst.
If you find the languorous pacing and meandering storyline of “Melancholia” to be depressing (end of the world, for god’s sake), I suspect Lars von Trier will have accomplished his purpose.
 [from Solares Hill]

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