So it's about time I yell into the Internetz about the movie I saw last night, Lars von Trier's Melancholia.
I saw this movie at 7:20 PM last night - dark sky when I entered the theater, pitch black when I emerged at around 9:50. Knowing the film's background and scenario, I was surprised to see the theater fill up (roughly 80% full by the time previews rolled) mostly with couples
. Couples in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. What I'd really like to know is... WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A DATE MOVIE?? Were these a bunch of hipster couples trying to be ironic en masse??!!
But enough about the audience. The two big things I took away from this movie:
1. Melancholia is a gorgeous movie. Its tableaux are breathtakingly beautiful.
2. Melancholia is the most depressing movie I have ever seen. I have seen a lot of movies, a lot of them depressing, but this one won the race by a healthy (unhealthy?) margin. I left the theater feeling very down; had it not been for a random call from a family member shortly afterward, and drinks/gregariousness with an old friend 'til the wee hours of the morning, I don't know how I would have made it through today. And I don't mean to seem melodramatic, this really is just the way it was.
I would sooner recommend von Trier's last film, Antichrist, than I would Melancholia to anyone. For the first time in my life, I have seen a movie I don't think anyone should ever watch.
What really got me upon further reflection was thinking about Melancholia as compared to Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life. Whereas Malick infuses in his beautiful (but apparently pointless) world a kind of hopeful spirituality, von Trier communicates in his film the polar opposite sentiment. There is no hope in Melancholia - even Antichrist ends with some glimmer of hope! Here, only despair and resignation to doom. If the Sean Penn character from Malick's Thin Red Line were to make a movie, it would be Melancholia. That The Tree of Life and Melancholia competed at Cannes the same year - this year! - may be one of the greatest coincidences in recent cinema history. I am thankful the Cannes jury chose The Tree of Life over Melancholia for the Palme d'Or - I regret seeing Melancholia, and wish I could un-see it.
To conclude: technical excellence, yes. But for what you will feel by the time the end credits appear, it is absolutely not worth watching.
...my 2 cents.