12 December 2011


Surprisingly, Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia is not an abrasive or self-indulgent movie. The acting is admirable, the photography is beautiful, and the story unfolds with care. Part One actually seems to radiate warmth and concern for its characters. Their foibles are presented without scorn, but conveyed with sympathy. It feels like a real party – replete with actual joy and drama. The ensemble acting is flawless and each character dynamic is treated with the same concern. It’s a beautiful calm before the storm, although those distant grey clouds are visible. Part Two is a coup of acting and tone. Moving from the warm palette of Part One, Part Two is much cooler. Blue, white, and grey dominate the color scheme. The ensemble is pared down to three actors and this section of the film records their reactions to the apocalypse. Each character is not treated as a schematic of reaction, but a person with a real stake in the upcoming disaster. It’s less a matter of how they survive as much how they deal with the stress of the inexorable disaster. That they also communicate a distinct viewpoint is as much a testament to the acting as it is to the tone. The last shot of the film is almost literally stunning. I could hardly believe that it succeeded as well as it did. But it does because not only does it look good, but the actors leading the story to that point make it a truly dreadful sight. Easily, this is the most marvelous film about the end of the world that I’ve yet seen.

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