What movie was that...?

29 November 2011


directed by Lars Von Trier

After getting broomed out of Cannes for being a Nazi (I am editorializing. The Cannes decision was and is ridiculous), Von Trier has gone incommunicado, but his newest film has much to say. Melancholia, though a bit initially groan inducing premisewise (the wedding fiasco, uber-aristocratic sad bastard people with endless wealth portion, not the truly wonderful hidden planet premise), succeeded, at least to me, in articulating the throes of a deeply imbedded trauma, a profound sadness and dysfunction as only Mr. Lars knows how to articulate. The second portion of the film does seek to bring the wedding portion into meaningless, trivial focus, and Von Trier’s grim view of humanity is more subdued here, less vicious and arrogant, but no less pointed. I usually love and hate Von Trier’s films, but Melancholia seemed only to fall under the former category this time around. The surreal and fantastical is depicted sans flashy sci-fi trappings in a very Charlie Kaufmanesque way, and the result is at once engrossing and devastating. Kirsten Dunst was outstanding (and I usually hate her), but for me the film belonged to Charlotte Gainsbourg, who finds the fragility and strength of every moment. Bravo. Melancholia is one of those borderline allegorical films, where every character and story element can be interpreted as symbolic, as I am sure was Mr. Von Trier’s intention, and his-let’s call it modest grandiosity- has found a way to strike a chord rather than pummeling it.
Plot hole problem: The one plot point in this film with which I cannot make my peace is the nature of Kirsten Dunst’s accent, or lack thereof. Her mother is played by Charlotte Rampling, her father is John Hurt, and her sister is Charlotte Gainsbourg. How, with family as British/French as this, does Ms. Dunst end up with not even a hint of an accent? This is my Goonies plot hole hang up for Melancholia, not the fictional planet, or the doomsday goings on, or the bizarre behavior of Udo Kier.


  1. ah, but once you come to terms with the fact that everything is an allegory, mere curiosities like accents can't be commented on. It's all in the plan!
    I'm kidding, of course, but very nice to read your notes. You liked Gainsbourg considerably more than I did, but we agree on the movie and how it crosses over from just being a film for von Trier acolytes but instead for a much wider range of people.

  2. I was just talking about this concept with my brother DC. Most of the time when I find myself recommending Von Trier films, I attach to that recommendation a very strong warning label (Dogville, Dancer in the Dark, etc). But this one could be Von Trier's Blue Velvet, the movie that is accessible, but gives you a glimpse of Von Trier's vision should you want to delve deeper. But for the right kind of film lover, The Five Obstructions is always a spot on recommendation, too. I am very interested a film you recently reviewed, Putty Hill. I will have to keep an eye out for that one.

  3. I am way late to the party on this one. I just saw it. Mostly for Kirsten Dunst's...well you know. Anyway, I liked the prologue and most of part 2. I really had a tough time with the rest of the movie plot wise. Hence, my trip to the place I knew I could get answers; this wonderful website. I have to ask that you make one thing clear for me though. Why does Michael leave after only a few hours of marriage and why is it so unceremonious?? I can't wrap my head around that. Answer that one for me and I will, in turn, reveal the secrets of Ms. Dunst's missing accent. Ok, you got me. I can't help you out there.

    1. Hey hey hey. Long time no hear. Sorry about the delayed response to this, but I've been a bit of a lazy ass when it comes to blogging it up recently. As for the Michael dilemma, I looked at it as a mixture of two things: one was kind of a playing with time situation (on Von Trier's part). Mostly, though, I kind of got the impression that this has clearly happened before with Justine, and that Michael has sort of resigned himself to having to fade into the background during times like this. Don't know if helps you at all, but that was how I reconciled that element of the story (and it seemed to make sense to me).


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