Lars von Trier. Release Date: Nov 11, 2011
I saw this on Amazon Prime, since it's not playing anywhere near my North Dallas home. It's being kicked around as the topic of discussion for a future episode of the LAMBcast that I'll be on. There are lots of people who are flipping out about this movie, but for the life of me, I can't figure out why.
Well, that's not totally true. Kirsten Dunst, the reigning queen of Hollywood's "hot body, weird face" competition, is... powerful, and much better in this role than I ever would have given her credit for. I'm not ready to start discussing her as an Oscar hopeful, but if she wins Best Actress, I'm going to lump her in with Halle Berry (yes, that's a boob joke). To be fair, it's not even JUST Kirsten Dunst that is good. The whole cast performs these amazingly human, amazingly quirky, amazingly flawed characters as if they're extensions of the actors' own personalities. The cinematography is stunning. There's no better word. I absolutely LOVED how they created Melancholia both as a planet in its own right and before that as an event in the night sky.
But, and we finally come to the crux of the problem, I didn't like a single character. Justine is nucking futs, and we have no back story to explain the process of her illness. Michael is clearly a codependent puss. Claire is alternately controlling, weak-willed, and a coward. John is a miser. The parents are a train wreck. Tim is apparently too dumb to realize that he's basically been sexually assaulted, and then is still dumb enough to assume that because the sex was good for HIM that it was also good for her. Actually, he at least made me laugh, so he gets a few points.
The story left me with questions that had no answers, and not in that, "oh, you can interpret as you want to" kind of way, but in that, "the story writers are hoping you don't notice this massive black hole that's kind of central to our premise" way. These characters have CLEARLY defined roles and serve as plot devices in fairly obvious and leading ways, but there's nothing to discuss what in exactly the hell happens between Justine and Michael, what caused the psychodrama in the early phases, and why real scientists would consider that a planet's "orbit" might go all funhouse mirror. I know there are "irregular" orbits, but this isn't a Looney Tunes episode.
My other problems centralized around Keifer Sutherland's excessive use of the "GD" term (left out to satisfy those of you more pious than I) and why the first 10 minutes of the film was basically a Calvin Klein Obsession commercial without a half naked man in it. That whole thing gave this odd, vaguely put upon feeling... like when I'm watching pretentious crap that's trying to pass itself off as not-pretentious "mind expanding" ART. I'm thinking of you, The Fountain. I'm also trying to figure out how Alexander Skarsgard got such central billing with such a tiny ass part? I'm guessing that's to lure in the big True Blood money. Fans of that show will doubtless be shocked to see Skarsgard kissing (wait for it)... a GIRL! But seriously... why does his name feature so prominently? And, having only seen True Blood once, I didn't know who he was until the closing credits.
On a side note -- I've decided that if I have to pay $79 annually for the Amazon Prime service, I resent paying $7 bucks to rent a movie for 48 hours. I haven't replaced my Netflix streaming account yet, but I know Amazon Prime won't be that replacement.