Lars mo­ments on Earth

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies - LEIGH PAATSCH Now show­ing Vil­lage Cine­mas

WHY all the drama over the sim­ple act of get­ting mar­ried? It’s hardly the end of the world, is it? Well, as a mat­ter of fact, in this par­tic­u­lar case, it is.

In a beau­ti­ful and baf­fling mood piece from con­tro­ver­sial Dan­ish film­maker Lars von Trier, Kirsten Dunst plays Jus­tine, a de­pressed young wo­man star­ing down com­plete obliv­ion.

In the first half of the pic­ture, Jus­tine’s mar­riage is over on the very evening it be­gins.

In the sec­ond half, she waits sto­ically with her sis­ter Claire ( Char­lotte Gains­bourg), and other fam­ily and friends for the Earth to be com­pletely de­stroyed.

These two dis­tinct ‘‘ chap­ters’’ of Me­lan­cho­lia are fore­shad­owed by an in­cred­i­ble open­ing pro­logue that will stand as one of the great vir­tu­oso screen se­quences of 2011.

To the strains of Wag­ner’s fa­mously omi­nous Tris­tan and Isolde ( be­lieve me, you’ll recog­nise it as soon as you hear the first bars), von Trier sum­mons forth a grandiose, yet con­frontingly di­rect metaphor for the hu­man con­di­tion.

It is the fi­nal few min­utes of ex­is­tence for all mankind. There is nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. Some are frozen in fear. Oth­ers are frozen with ac­cep­tance that every­thing is over.

Von Trier’s cam­era glides slowly across this in­tim­i­dat­ing vista. It is as if we are be­ing shown through some kind of macabre dio­rama in an aban­doned mu­seum.

And then, two worlds lit­er­ally col­lide. Our puny planet is pit­ted like an olive. And then, the screen fades to black.

Re­mem­ber, this is just the start of Me­lan­cho­lia.

Some view­ers who wit­ness this pow­er­fully poignant 10- minute last good­bye will ar­gue it com­mu­ni­cates every­thing von Trier has to say with his pic­ture. And they will be 100 per cent right.

Nev­er­the­less, even if the two hours that fol­low some­times be­la­bor the point, Me­lan­cho­lia re­mains a to­tally unique cin­e­matic ex­pe­ri­ence.

Any­one who be­lieves there is still un­tapped po­ten­tial to be found in the medium of cinema will rel­ish the chal­lenge put to them here.

Oth­ers will find the whole ex­er­cise to be a com­plete and ut­ter bore. And they will be 100 per cent right as well.

I’ll freely ad­mit some stretches of the film – par­tic­u­larly those staged at Jus­tine’s mis­er­able wed­ding at a posh coun­try club – could hold the key to an all- new cure for in­som­nia.

How­ever, there is no chance of com­pletely nod­ding off in Me­lan­cho­lia due to Dunst’s in­cred­i­bly jolt­ing por­trayal of Jus­tine.

Her per­for­mance is a won­der to be­hold: a com­plex mix of ela­tion, de­fla­tion and eerie calm.

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