Note: This review of ‘Melancholia’ , the third posting in the Allan Fish Bonanza Encore series, was selected by Doodad Kind of Town’s superlative film and theater writer, Pat Perry.
by Allan Fish
(Denmark 2011 139m) DVD1/2
Life is only on earth…and not for long
p Meta Louise Foldager, Louise Vesth d/w Lars Von Trier ph Manuel Alberto Claro ed Molly Marlene Stensgaard, Morten Hojbjerg m Richard Wagner art Simone Grau cos Manon Rasmussen
Kirsten Dunst (Justine), Charlotte Gainsbourg (Claire), Kiefer Sutherland (John), Cameron Spurr (Leo), Charlotte Rampling (Gaby), John Hurt (Dexter), Alexander Skarsgard (Michael), Stellan Skarsgard (Jack), Udo Kier (wedding planner), Brady Corbet (Tim), Jesper Christensen (Little Father),
It all seems such a long time ago, that benevolent, lovely face staring back to us off a billboard at the beginning of Spider-Man 2. Then Kirsten Dunst was one of the hottest properties in Hollywood, superb as Marion Davies in The Cat’s Meow, better than the mediocre likes of Crazy/Beautiful deserved, earning a place in the ensemble of Eternal Sunshine so she wasn’t out of her depth with Winslet, Carrey and Wilkinson. But then she drifted, lost in the blancmange of her friend Sofia Coppola’s teen Marie Antoinette and half a dozen awful films. All Good Things was a turning point; not an especially special film, but she was touching as the missing wife, yet still it seemed strange she would consider working with Lars Von Trier. But Lars was a canny old sod; picking Emily Watson from nowhere, making Björk believable, getting career best turns from Nicole Kidman, Bryce Dallas Howard and Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Then there was the title. For those eclectic few who had seen the film on the previous page, it conjured up comparisons between two masters – Von Trier and Diaz – at opposite ends of the cinematic spectrum but both testing boundaries. Not to mention the personal link to Von Trier’s own life, a man haunted by ghosts but at the same time welcoming them as an old friend for a glass of sherry. He knew all about melancholia, so it’s little surprise he’d eventually make a film devoted to it. Or not… (more…)