|A very earnest gaze! LOL|
WARNING: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
"Melancholia" proves that a big budget means nothing in terms of the final artistic creation. It was the worst sort of disaster film I've ever seen. Even hammy B movie type films are at least enjoyable for their contrived drama, overwrought affectations and downright silly action sequences, but this film tries so hard to be taken seriously and fails.
Some reviewers have been critical of the slow pace of the film, and defenders retort that this is somehow evidence of its sophistication. I disagree with both camps. Having a slower pace is not a problem if the character's are engaging, the plot is interesting and we're made to care on some level. Also, as evidenced in "Melancholia" a slow pace is an exercise in futility if all the components don't work.
Kirsten Dunst's performance was overdone and tiresome. She is a good actress, but not a great one. Kiefer Sutherland was great in 24, but I don't think his acting style is suited to slower paced dramatic films. Or rather I should say melodramatic films which this one was. I'm not a parent, but one other aspect of this film really irked me. Charlotte Gainsbourg's character's resignation to her fate was semi-believable, but the way she behaved in light of her young son's impending doom was ridiculous! Dunst spends about half of her screen time making various depressive, vacant or angst ridden facial expressions. The master of this sort of facial acting was Toshiro Mifune. With a subtle expression he could brilliantly convey an emotional state, or even several, but it was never overdone. I wish Dunst would study his films and take some lessons!
The tone of the film as a whole was pretentious. Melancholia was a Victorian term for people with depression and that's how I felt after watching this film. I'm not a parent, but one other aspect of this film really irked me. Sadly this sort of film is not an anomaly for director Lars von Trier. I've never been a fan of his work, but I went into this film with an open mind and was once again disappointed. His ethics are also highly questionable, and yes I maintain this is relevant since as a director one's moral makeup has a definite impact and imprint on what you put into a film. At the last Cannes Film Festival Trier made pro-Nazi comments, saying he sympathized with Hitler. Also, he left his pregnant wife to shack up with the family babysitter who was young enough to be his daughter!