Friday, December 16, 2011

A melancholic cede to surrealism

Lars von Trier is the director of this movie. The reason why it’s specified at the very beginning is because of the kind of films he creates. Or perhaps, only he creates. Melancholia is one such piece of art. Having said that, it’s not for the everyday crowd. Those who are familiar with his work know this. Or perhaps, only they do.

Melancholia begins with graphic visuals that occupies considerable amount of time and mind. If one pays close attention, the entire storyline is depicted in these 3D sci-fi mélange. Almost every single act is a symbol layered in mystery that unravels itself as the screen moves forward. The real world cinema begins much later.

The drama basically revolves around Justine (Kirsten Dunst) who is getting married. The trouble is she’s hardly excited about it and is visibly losing her will to live. Later it turns out that she is not only depressed but also quite assertive of her delusions about the realities surrounding us. Anyway the marriage may not even last a night. Thankfully, her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) plays stoic and cares for her. Likewise, her brother-in-law John (Kiefer Sutherland), though highly irritated with her incomprehensible behavior, chooses to stay hospitable.

Against this already disturbing background, the world is coming to an end.

A planet named Melancholia is about to crash with Earth. But unlike in most other movies, nobody does nothing about it – no one is saving no one! Everyone involved is just awaiting end in his or her unique ways. The purposelessness of life is effectively emphasized from the beginning till the credits roll.

All the lead actors did a remarkable job, especially Dunst who essayed a similar role in All Good Things. You almost get that uncomfortable taste on the tip of your tongue when she cries: "It tastes like ashes!" Charlotte Gainsbourg proved once again why she is von Trier's favourite.

Cinematography and the background score is the key here. As for some directors like Terrence Mallick, Jim Jarmusch and Lars von Trier, of course, an image carries more weightage than a dialogue. As expected, they are often accused of indulging too much, leaving the audience exasperated. But then we are not supposed to crib as they are the torchbearers, post-Bergman. No wonder one will always find restless long shots with shaking cameras and crisp optical illusions in movies like The Tree of Life and Melancholia. A lot.

This flick is worth every single minute of its 136 runtime but your patience shall be severely tested. Must watch for the cinephiles!

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