Melancholia (Lars von Trier, 2011)

What's it about? On her wedding day, the morose Justine (Kirsten Dunst) notices a star has disappeared from the night sky. Turns out the star has been obscured by the planet Melancholia, which has appeared from behind the Sun and is on a collision course with Earth. Bummer. It's an allegory about depression. At least, I think it is. Isn't it? Anyone know? Anyone care?

Is it any good? Terrible. I was at a wedding once where a speaker gave an excruciatingly bad speech, one so badly judged, stuttering and without any logic or interest, it left everyone cringing with embarassment. Watching Melancholia was like that speech, only I didn't get drunk and dance to the Timewarp afterwards. Trust von Trier to take a cool sci-fi concept and make the end of the world a crushingly dull event. If you aren't irritated by the extended opening sequence, which features portentous (or is that pretentious?), super-slo-mo images of horses stumbling, birds falling from the sky and planets colliding, you certainly will be by the character of Justine. I've heard of having cold feet on your wedding day, but continually leaving your reception to (a) mope (b) have a bath or (c) shag a stranger in a sand-pit suggests her heart isn't really in it, now, does it? Nor does it make for an interesting central character in a movie. But she's depressed, you see, and the only thing that seems to set her mind at ease is the huge planet looming in the sky which is about to kill her, her family and everyone on Earth. Well, as long as she feels better, I guess. Anything good in it at all? Well, Kiefer Sutherland storms about wishing he was playing Jack Bauer so he could sort out the whole sorry affair, there's some nice imagery and Dunst gets her kit off a couple of times (von Trier a master at getting his leading ladies to appear in the nip), but you might miss these things because you'll have been distracted by your nails growing or the shadows on the ceiling of your room. Prior to its release, von Trier wrote that he had "started to regret having made such a polished film, but that he hoped it would contain some flaws which would make it interesting". Well, he got the flaws all right, pity about the other bit.

I don't trust you. What do others think? Dunst won Best Actress at Cannes, whilst many critics raved about how striking von Trier's film-making was. Note to these critics : just because it's striking doesn't mean it's any good. Also, saying it would make for a good double-bill with The Tree of Life is not necessarily a good thing. A clear case of Lars von Trier's New Clothes. Consider me the clear-eyed little boy in the story who points this out.

Anything else I should know? This was the film von Trier was promoting at the Cannes Film Festival when he made ill-advised 'jokes' about being a Nazi and having sympathy for Hitler, which led to him being banned from the Festival. They should have banned him all right, but not for that.

What does the Fonz think? Depressingly bad.

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