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.