Film: Mixed reviews for Melancholia


December 9th, 2011

Omaha, NE – Controversial writer/director Lars Von Trier is back with a tale about the end of the world. The Reader’s Ryan Syrek and Matt Lockwood from the Movieha podcast, with a review of Melancholia.

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Ryan: Although his film made headlines, writer/director Lars Von Trier made his biggest splash over the summer when he said that he more or less sympathized with Hitler.

Lars Von Trier's latest film, Melancholia, stars Kirsten Dunst.

Matt: For the record, I didn’t need another reason to dislike Mr. Von Trier. His body of work was already enough.

Ryan: Down boy. Von Trier is known for his grim, nihilistic works of art and his latest, Melancholia is no different.

Matt: Even if I wish it was.

Ryan: I’m sensing you have some hostility here.

Matt: I wouldn’t say that. Hostility is too nice a word.

Ryan: Melancholia begins with an infinitely beautiful slow-motion glimpse into Armageddon. Haunting images of destruction that resemble moving paintings run for about five minutes.

Matt: That’s right, there are five watchable minutes.

Ryan: From there, the film is split into two halves, one named after Kirsten Dunst’s character Justine, and the other after Charolette Gainsborg’s character Claire, who is Justine’s sister.

Matt: Don’t worry, they’re both equally unlikable.

Ryan: Dunst’s segment follows her character at her wedding, as she mopes around and cheats on her husband of five minutes.

Matt: Yes, this movie features fornication on a golf course at night and still isn’t interesting.

Watch a trailer of Melancholia here:

Ryan: The second segment follows Claire as she cares for a downtrodden Justine, who, as it turns out, had been a depressed mess all her life because she was actually in tune with the impending destruction of earth by a planet named Melancholia, which had been hidden behind the sun and is now bearing down on our planet.

Matt: I wish I could have been hidden behind the sun instead of watching this.

Ryan: So, you didn’t like then?

Matt: Not one bit, my friend. Not only did I find the whole thing to be boring and inconsequential, it’s also repetitive, as Von Trier’s central thesis here is no different than in any of his other works: everyone on the planet is awful and wretched and life has no meaning.

Ryan: Well, that may be slightly overstating it, but I get where you’re coming from. For me, I don’t mind being challenged by a creator I don’t necessarily agree with. I found Dunst’s performance to be intriguing if a bit simple, and did really enjoy the look of the film, which was simply gorgeous.

Matt: Yes, but hollow beauty is really just another kind of ugly.

Ryan: That’s almost profound.

Matt: And it didn’t even take me two hours.

Ryan: Look, this isn’t for everyone, I don’t even know how much I really enjoyed it myself. But Von Trier is an artist worth at least contemplating. Melancholia is a mournful, depressive examination of the apocalypse but it is at least a unique approach to the familiar subject matter.

Matt: If unique is a synonym for unbearable, I couldn’t agree more.

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