Lars von Trier’s latest confirms what Antichrist quite delicately suggested: that the great man is disavowing formal and conceptual rigour in favour of a more pronounced and sentimental style of filmmaking. Melancholia is not without its pleasures, though von Trier seems content to wallow in the semiological ecstasy of having a large blue planet called Melancholia threaten the Earth with collision and, thus, devastation; rather than deliver the pointed social or theoretical criticism for which his films are renowned. Though the film goes to pains to represent depression in a convincing and, particularly, cinematic way, Dunst’s performance does not carry the pathetic weight of von Trier’s previous heroines, and Gainsbourg seems to have degenerated into broad disinterest. A disappointing outing which lacks the mastery and antagonism of von Trier’s most celebrated work.
Words: Oisín Murphy