Monday, April 16, 2012

Go to hell, Lars von Trier: A fair and balanced review of Melancholia

I took a break from Fifty Shades Freed for this?
Oh how I've always hated you, Lars von Trier, using your pseudo-feminist plots as a flimsy cover for pervasive and disturbing misogynistic characterizations. And oh how I cursed your name when I heard about the plot of Melancholia. I wished it had been directed by anyone but you. The idea of conceptually rhyming a planet slamming into Earth with a woman's bout with clinical depression has such promise. Depression is a planet--one that you live on after it collides into you, obliterating the Earth everyone else is enjoying. That's how Ang Lee, David Fincher, Alfonso Cuaron, and even Quentin Tarantino would have filmed it. Hell, I think Brett Ratner would have gotten there by accident.

But you, you Lars von Trier, used this promising plot as an excuse to run every woman in the film through your exploitative, voyeuristic, and humiliating wringer. It's not a good sign for your film when you make your depressive heroine annoying, her sister impotent, and their mother a witchy harridan who makes the worst wedding toast in the history of cinema. (As an aside--worst wedding toast in the history of cinema is actually sort of a stiff competition. Old School, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Wedding Crashers--but the difference is, those screenwriters all knew that no one would ever say such a thing out loud at a wedding. Von Trier hasn't gotten the memo.)

Also, I've about had it with your pretentious, over-scored, self-indulgent opening set pieces. Though I suppose it was a fair introduction to the film's argument that women are most beautiful and magical when they've surrendered to death, and most hysterical and pathetic when they hope for survival. I might have even forgiven the misogyny--God knows I'm in good practice from my love for and compulsive rewatches of Fight Club--if everything in the entire movie wasn't such a heavy-handed half-baked Metaphor. When you already have a planet named Melancholia, you really don't need a wedding limo that can't get on the road, or a lost Edenic apple orchard.

Melancholia is notable for two reasons--the opportunity to see Alexander and Stellan Skarsgard act together, and the dubious honor of containing the most over-long and ultimately pointless wedding reception scene in modern cinema, unseating Deer Hunter. Other than that, I was alternately bored and pissed for two hours and fifteen minutes. I won't get fooled again, Lars von Trier.

1 comment:

  1. yeah, that guy sounds like a real winner.