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I Smile and I Smile and I Smile
Melancholia - Lars von Trier (DVD)
Member Name: charby
Melancholia - Lars von Trier (DVD)
Advantages: Beautiful film, very well acted, great music and effects
Disadvantages: None, though it is depressing at times
I went to see it at the cinema last Monday without having any idea whatsoever what it was about. My boyfriend and I went to the cinema just for something to do and so decided to go and see whatever film started the earliest after us arriving. Although he knew that it was a Lars von Trier film he was also in the dark as to the film's plot, which is an ideal way to go and see a film, in my opinion, as then you don't have any expectations whatsoever. I will therefore only give the barest minimum in terms of plot description in the hope that, should you also decide to go and see it, you go in without knowing what is going to happen.
== Melancholia ==
Justine (Kirsten Dunst) is getting married. While this is supposed to be the happiest day of her life, she cannot shake her overwhelming sense of melancholy. Much to her sister Claire's (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her husband John's (Kiefer Sutehrland) annoyance, Justine spends much of the party locked in the bathroom or generally being nowhere to be found. Her deep depression is not helped by her divorced parents' hostility towards each other or her mother's speech on the pointlessness of marriage. But what has caused Justine to so lose her joie de vivre and instead feel that she is traipsing through deep mud without hope of getting out?
== My thoughts ==
As was probably made clear by my introduction, I adored this film. The film's beautifully atmospheric opening was so impressive and arty, and though its relaxing Wagner soundtrack almost lulled me off to sleep, this really set the melancholic and dramatic tone of the film. Through the rest of the film I was haunted by the beginning shots of planets circling each other and of Justine standing in her wedding dress or walking while held back by vines.
The film's portrayal of depression and how it affects families as well as the individual suffering from the illness was also done in an often chillingly accurate way. The audience often share the feeling of irritation felt towards Justine by some of the characters, such as by her brother-in-law John, who doesn't understand why she is 'ruining' her wedding that he paid for. We see also, however, the love between sisters Justine and Claire, as Claire tries desperately to care for her sister without really knowing how to or what is wrong. I feel that is captured the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness which are symptoms of depression and of helping someone suffering from depression accurately but tactfully.
=== Acting ===
The acting in Melancholia was also sublime. I almost didn't recognise Kirsten Dunst at first, as her body language and facial expressions in her depiction of her deeply troubled character. She really carried the film and managed to play the part of a woman who can only cope with appearing happy for so long with grace and true acting skill. Charlotte Gainsbourg was also exceptional as Claire, who played the part of caring sister as well as wife and mother well. She's an actress whom I recognise from many things without being able to remember exactly what I've seen her in, but has nevertheless made a great impression on me in this film. Cameron Spurr was also excellent as Claire and John's young son, Leo, especially considering that this was his film debut.
=== Cinematography and Atmosphere ===
One of the things that has most stuck with me from this film is its atmosphere. The beginning sets the tone perfectly though the atmosphere doesn't really wane throughout. While the film gets increasingly tense in parts as the film progresses, it is quietly sad throughout and the emotions of the characters are easily shared by the viewers.
This is a film that I was very happy to have seen on the big screen as so much of it was beautifully shot, with the opening ten minutes being particularly worth the cost of a cinema ticket. There are many brilliant birds eye view shots of the countryside as well as wide shots of the grounds of the family's house and the sea and sky beyond.
=== Other Things ==
On reflection, one of my favourite things about the film is that it appeared to be set everywhere and nowhere. While Claire and her parents had English accents, her sister Justine was most definitely American, as were Claire's husband and son. Wedding guests also spanned the Atlantic with many Scandinavian names to be found, but most interestingly of all, it was never obvious in which country this film was set. We never see a car number plate or a reference to any local town or city, with the house's proximity to 'the village' the only geographical reference we are given. I assume that this is meant to allude to the fact that human tragedy affects everyone, regardless of where on the Earth we find ourselves. Melancholy, illness and disaster are not unique to one corner of the globe.
== In Conclusion ==
In short, this was a masterpiece of a film and as such I do not hesitate in giving it 5/5 and recommending it highly. While it is probably not one to see on a day in which you are feeling particularly down, it is still one that I would advise that most people see. It's also the type of film that you continue to enjoy even more after having seen it, as little details that didn't make sense to you on first viewing it suddenly have significance in the context of the whole story. I imagine that I'll definitely watch this film again at a later date and it's unlikely that it'll leave my mind for quite some time yet.
Summary: A beautiful film that haunts you for days afterwards.