Nonetheless, the film is still vintage self-indulgent Von Trier. For example, he continues to favour a technique he utilized in Antichrist of having shots slowed down to an absolute snail’s place, so slow that it takes, for example, a character 30 seconds to take a single step. And while these moments are gorgeous to look at (despite all else this is one of the most visually stunning films of the year) I fail to see what purpose they serve beyond mere aesthetics.
Regardless of the controversy he draws, Von Trier always manages to get a great cast of actors to act out his strange ideas. Here we have Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg (reteaming with the director after Antichrist), Alexander Skarsgård, Stellan Skarsgård (who are father and son), Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling, and John Hurt. All performances are fantastic but it’s Dunst who gets all the heavy-lifting to do, and she was aptly awarded for her brilliant performance with the Best Actress award at Cannes. If you thought being a damsel in distress for Peter Parker was all she could do, think again.
In the end I can’t say I liked Melancholia. It’s more interesting than anything else for me, a piece to be admired from a technical standpoint. And overall I don’t think it adds up to as much as Von Trier maybe thinks it does, a case of being less than the sum of its parts. Von Trier is still as decadent as ever, perhaps even more so because he spends less time trying to annoy his audience and more time wallowing in his various trademarks. But hey, I didn’t come away from this one seething - considering how much I dislike Von Trier, that’s definitely a step in the right direction.