…and the quest to see everything


Because of Breaking the Waves, every time I hear Lars von Trier‘s name I remember this Bowie song. Let’s play it, shall we?

Her’s my write-up of Lars’ new movie Melancholia at Yourkloset. Within this movie I can see Lars’ earlier work, like the wedding in Breaking the Waves, the mob mentality in Dogville and the depression in Antichrist. It operates like a contest – whoever has the most complex and human approach to depression wins. There’s Justine (Kirsten Dunst), a disastrous bride and a vessel of depression who somehow marvels and is relieved that a planet, also called Melancholia, dangerously approaches to evaporate the Earth. She’s the one most of my friends can relate to either because of personal reason. Or because of Dunst, arguably giving her best performance within a career unfolding just as me and my friends were growing up. There’s also her brother-in-law John (Kiefer Sutherland), the most blindly optimistic character who steadfastly holds on to a rational belief system.

Justine is sympathetic enough but I wouldn’t pick her or John as someone I can relate to. That honour belongs to Justine’s sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg). She’s the one who’s probably read all the books about psychological health and help and thinks that she’s sent on this earth to help her sister even if the latter doesn’t want to be helped. The one worried with real problems, the maternal instinct to both coddle and abscond her sister when she thinks she needs to do so.

She’s also the false image of normalcy that I assume many people with depression learn to act out, that layer vulnerable to anxieties outside and underneath. So which character here do you relate to the most?

4 responses

  1. Dunst was very good in this role but her character was just a little mopey for my liking. However, von Trier keeps his artistic vision in-tact and although there are moments of boredom, it still all comes together so well in the last 40 minutes. Great review.

    December 26, 2011 at 4:02 am

    • It’s one of those things where her depression is real but also hard to watch and even irritating, like most depressions are. It’s also like watching paint but I saw a new emotion every millisecond. Lars is a bad boy but he’s also a master in both how he sees humanity and the visuals he uses to depict these sad yet interesting people.

      December 26, 2011 at 5:35 pm

  2. Who’d have thought that choosing Justine would be the boring choice? But, alas, she’s the one I can – said with trepidation – most relate to. I sort of like how it’s the crazy one that’s most lucid when things start going awry, which is one of the most interesting facets for me in the film’s final moments.

    December 27, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    • I gathered my ‘Team Justine’ stats from my movie loving friends, which says a lot about cineastes lol :S. I also probably relate to Claire more because Lars equally presents Justine’s depression with voyeurism as much as it is ‘feel her plight!’

      My only explanation for Justine’s behaviour at the end is that if she’s weathered her own istorm, she can withstand anything. It’s a strange and convenient character twist but it also shows how strong she is.

      December 27, 2011 at 3:57 pm

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