Sunday, 30 August 2020

Melancholia

I didn't realise that I knew about Lars Von Trier until I watched this deeply moving and artistic kind-of Sci-Fi film, when I realised that he had penned the amazing 'Breaking the Waves' and 'Dancer in the Dark' as well as this one. This film is a study of two sisters, two stories entwined into one as a huge blue planet is on a collision course for earth.

The film is split into two, each named after one of the sisters, the viewer only getting told about the planets collision potential into the second. The first is about Justine and we find ourselves at her wedding. A lavish wedding which has cost a fortune to stage, for which her sister Claire's family have paid. Justine is played by Kirsten Dunst and is suffering with some sort of mental health problem on her wedding day.

She is melancholy, down, depressed and acts irrationally throughout the day as things go from bad to worse for her and for most people attending. Charlotte Gainsbourg plays Claire and the two female leads do so convincingly and with much intensity.

Claire is hopeful in the second part of the film that her long-suffering husband, played by Kiefer Sutherland, is right in what he is telling her that in fact the smart scientists are predicting that the blue planet will miss earth, but she is frantic when she looks on the internet and the popular opinion is that the collision is on, for sure. Claire looks out for her sister constantly and makes allowances for her, much to the annoyance of her husband who, it is clear, has, by now, learnt to play ball and not argue with actions of the bond. One by one, all but the two sisters and Claire's son are left in and around the huge family home as they watch blue planet drawing closer and closer, preparing themselves for the collision, if it happens, or to start the party if it doesn't.

The film is beautifully shot in terms of scenery and sets, artistic views of the sky and blue planet - only spoilt for me anyway by the consistent use of handheld camera in the first half of the field as it ducks and dives around the guests at the wedding. Thankfully, in the second part of the film there is much less. As usual, I get the point of why it is done (apart from budget) but I'd still really rather it wasn't! Apart from this, there are some very artistic sequences on offer here throughout the film, but particularly towards the beginning.

There are famous names popping up all over the place at the wedding, all having a bit of fun with their roles in various measures. Alexander Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt and Stellan Skarsgård to name but a few! It's an interesting and thought-provoking work of which is delivered in a beautifully artistic framework and worth a look when you get the chance. It pops up now and again on Film4 in the UK.

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