23 December 2011

Review: Melancholia

Genre: Drama

Playing the imploding black star at the epicenter of this operatic tale, Ms. Dunst moves with an ethereal solemnness and severity beautiful for its tranquility and disquieting for its tenor throughout Mr. von Trier's aptly named Melancholia, she a fragile disconnected form constantly pulling pulling on the other actors like a gaping mouth, certain of its prey's demise but not hurrying to achieve it. She is the veritable closing of day, the fading out of light from the world, and the sapping of all energy from nature. She is the terrible and wondrous, the physical and sublime, the corporeal and mythical, the fragrant and fragranceless; to drink from her cup is to touch tongues with ice that burns and never releases. She is intoxication born for naught but ending. She is complete, entire, perfect.

Into her it was the wisest choice for Mr. von Trier to invest the grave embryo of his idea, "a beautiful film about the end of the world" (http://www.melancholiathemovie.com). Her transcendent portrait of a woman broken and shattering at a snail's pace is captivating, and the characters that surround her in the film reflect and prod at her obsolescence with giddy unknowingness and plaint. Mr. von Trier was right then, to establish around her a solar system of planets self-absorbed and only weakly touching, playing a dangerous game with naïveté and ignorance, fixated all on the spit on which roasts plainly but hotly their would-be feast subtly poisoning them with every bite. Wagner's elegiac music completes the picture with god-fearing power in chords: the gathering predator in wait.

O, how slowly does she burn, how pressingly and how hard. The hyperphotographs of her and the cast and the setting and the sun and moon above the forest rain over the entire viewing. By the end your skin is soaked, your tongue inflamed, and your vision obliterated by the climax; solipsism never shone so brightly.

Grade: A

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