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Posts tagged “melancholia movie review

Take Shelter (2011) & Melancholia (2011) | Review by Hannah Brooks-Motl

Insipidly lovely, Melancholia charts the deadly subdural hematoma of the globalized petite bourgeoisie. Beautiful with pain, Take Shelter charts the last emphysemic wheeze of the American working class. Both movies hew to a kind of apocalyptic realism: vivid colors, slowed or frozen sequencing, wrenching innocent-child symbolism, creepy natural imagery, disturbed and distressingly enigmatic protagonists, poundingly “classical” scores… but only one of these two movies is any good. Where Melancholia bored and angered me, Take Shelter literally drove me sobbing from my seat; whereas Melancholia seemed a confused display of viciousness masquerading as “insight into the human condition,” Take Shelter stressed me the fuck out in a way I can only say felt “real,” as though my life too were bound up in the outcome of whatever it was Michael Shannon was facing—schizophrenia or a true end-of-the-world type situation, I’ll never know—and I found myself praying mid-movie: Please don’t show us his dreams again, Please don’t show us his dreams again…

Melancholia, on the other hand, wants to have its empathy and shove it down your pitiful, tiny throat too. Its characters are less despicable than they are dull—because the movie happens exclusively in a hermetically sealed metaphor (It’s a castle! That’s a hotel! That’s also a golf course! That’s about to explode!), the characters are allowed to reap nothing of context, nothing of reference: we watch them behave badly toward one another and are never asked to care why. Kirsten Dunst is some kind of arch saint for snobby girls, her big boobs a silent rebuke to all those who do not take her depression seriously: she’s seriously depressed guys!

Melancholia: rich people acting shitty and then the world explodes—the final act, in which Dunst gets to tell off Gainsborough for wanting to make the world’s end “nice,” but goes and builds the movie’s kid actor a teepee to sit in as the planet smashes to smithereens anyway, betrays Von Trier’s basic misunderstanding of the human condition.  Take Shelter: even in ending-less form, so pervasively empathic as to let us see anew the thin line we all walk in the stories we tell, or try to tell, each other and ourselves.