Melancholia – Film Review

If seeing a bummed-out Kirsten Dunst busting out her wedding dress bustier for an hour is your cup of tea, have I got a film for you! Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia.”

Trier describes his slightly sci-fi two hours and 13 minutes as “A beautiful movie about the end of the world.” And to be fair, some of the images Trier and his cinematographer Manuel Alberto Claro have crafted are exquisite. The film looks simply fantastic. The countryside and the actors have all earned their pay.

However, I learned in Robert McKee’s screenwriting seminar that when the discussion about a film shifts to its cinematography and soundtrack, it is likely because the story is incoherent. Yes, the music is terrific here as well.

The problem with this movie is how dark and depressing it is. OK, I get the author is trying to invoke “German romanticism” or what Trier describes as “Wagner in spades!”  I get too that there is a cinematic precedent for this sort of slow-moving allegory about life and death. This genre is perhaps best exemplified by Wim Wenders’s “Wings of Desire.” Against this backdrop, Trier succeeds – this film fits nicely into that pantheon – which may explain the enthusiasm found in many of the intellectualized reviews of this film.

For me, though, as well executed as this film is, given Greece, Italy, and Herman Cain, I want the movies I see in my precious extra time to scratch my entertainment itch. “Melancholia” didn’t do that.

I need something lighter. I want something clear and coherent. Here is a novel idea for movie makers; I want to feel good when I leave the theater. I know that is artistically bland, but it is what I want for my $50 spent at the theater. Is that too much to ask?

This film ends, and I sat there bummed out, unsure exactly why. If I were to do this review as I text, that would be easy, “WTF.”

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