Melancholia - Blu-ray Review

'A film which starts with an awkward family relationship but then fails to do anything coherent with it? This is Kill List all over again.'

Before Melancholia has even begun properly, its blu-ray menu is launching a sensory smorgasbord at you. Slow-motion, soaring music, planetary dances to tuneful compositions. It's all here and it's all within the film's pre-title opening eight minutes. Had this eight minutes been a short, it probably would have won Oscars.

Beauty established and played with, what does director Lars Von Trier do with the end of the world? Well, he shows Kirsten Dunst's breasts for one. Why? I'm not quite sure. Nor am I completely certain quite how mad everyone is in Melancholia, or why the horse won't cross the bridge, or, to some degree, what all the imagery the film starts with has to do with the rest of the narrative. The composition of Melancholia, like many films before it, is predicated on presenting attractive things for the audience to look at; planets colliding, Dunst naked - they all seem to be one and the same for Von Trier and they are all presented with little substance to back them up.

Unlike Tree Of Life - which though narratively tricky, did seem to have both a coherent story to tell and a degree of thematic uniformity, in and amongst its cosmic concerns - I never got the feeling Von Trier was going anywhere with musings surrounding Justine (Dunst), Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), John (Kiefer Sutherland) and Leo (Cameron Spurr). In the so-titled 'Part One' we get an awkward family wedding. In 'Part Two' we get Justine recovering at Claire and John's home. Popular theory would have it be that Melancholia is about depression, a disease which can literally crush your world, but this doesn't seem to fit in with the goings on of the first half, which spend a lot of time convincing the audience that Justine and Claire's family are awful human beings. A film which starts with an awkward family relationship but then fails to do anything coherent with it? This is Kill List all over again.

So, if the end conclusion is that Von Trier is meant to be saying something about depression and the initial linkage seems to want to say something about family then where does all the nakedness fit in? And what about what happens to John? And why won't the bloody horse cross the bridge? I'm still not sure.

I don't need a film to spell everything out for me 100% of the time and I don't need a fully explored plot either, but I do need some substance to go with my smorgasbord of beautiful visuals and I also need a modicum of narrative understanding. I'm not sure Von Trier's film has either of these things. Its messy, overlong and, ultimately, extremely unsatisfying.

Look further...

'the next time I see Melancholia I may feel something greater, something larger, something new. This is the sign of a brilliant film.' - The Movie Snob, A

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