Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lars Von Trier is Melancholic; go fetch him a scriptwriter!

Dear Lars Von Trier,

how is it going, mate? Does your new apocalyptic sci-fi drama sells well in the States? I hope it does, why else would you make all this fuss to keep it shallow and airbrushed, if not.

I read you are proud of it, you said you made if flawless and you now regret it. How humble of you, just don't, it has this absolutely polished look of Vogue fashion photoshoots, what's wrong with that? Of course, it is supposed to be a European film, where they don't usually do it the Hollywood way, but, well, you can get away with it, as long as it's art. And, what could it be if not art, when lovely Justine played by Kirsten Dunst strolls around the house deep in depression, but always dressed up in the most luxurious Prêt-à-Porter there is, just like her sister and her husband, even if the future is ominous ahead of them?

Then, I remember the sexiest scene in the film, where Kirsten comes out of the house in the middle of the night to get some sun get a tanning session with the latest blu-ray technology direct from the source, Planet Melancholia, onto her naked body; it slightly reminded me of naked Paris Hilton covered with gold to advertise a certain champagne in a can and that very last year trend of naked body wearing only shimmer, tremendous body art and very very hot. I love fashion magazines, I dearly love them, but who could ever tell that you love them inasmuch, and that your secret dream was to become a fashion photographer specialized in wedding ceremonies!

Then, all this Melancholia, Ophelia, depression (I love Millais, too, what a coincidence!); is it true that you had a depressive episode yourself? Because, I thought it was not very well depicted for a film, dear Lars, and don't get me wrong, but a film is a film, it has little to do with real life presentation-wise. There are certain rules on how to write a script, of course you are a great master and you have all the freedom to skip the rules, but, what if it doesn't work without them? There are certain things we usually need to see on the screen, in order to get the whole thing; the characters, their motives, their thoughts and how these are related to their actions. Here, we see none; there is only some chit-chat and heavy tension in the air. We fear that something goes wrong, we feel a certain alienation, but we never get to the core, we never sympathize, because we cannot relate at all. Everything is a mystery, nicely wrapped and presented, but boring and uninteresting for an audience which stays outside of this experimentation in sterilized environment.

Sorry to say, dear Lars, a similarity to Festen was evident, bad boy, you don't really need to copy others, do you? In this case, you even failed to copy it well, oops! It seemed to me that you had two separate ideas, one of a dysfunctional family and a second one of the earth perishing and you felt like combining them to produce a multi-dimensional film. Well, in the workshops young scenarists are told to go and find a script doctor and not to mix-and-match with random ideas to have enough material for a feature film. Your very personal insight that people who are depressed stay calm in stressful situations is a very interesting commentary on depression, but could not get you through a whole feature film, right? You could have made two excellent shorts, I guess, but I understand you wanted to take over Cannes with a stellar masterpiece.

But, tell me, dear Lars, do you really imagine that if the planet was in peril, three rich people and a kid would stay isolated in their castle in the countryside, out of reach, out of touch, and continue with their calm everyday routine, like horse-riding, taking their breakfast in white porcelain, then built a magic hut and get into it, holding hands and crying when the end is near? Sorry, but we don't live back in Romanticism and people do not suffer, they are not stoic and are not called Werther either, I am only aware of Werther's Originals, they are candies, yummy! People when they fear the end of Earth approaching, they scream and shout, they dig into earth to hideaway or they take their Lear Jet and fly to Mars.

There is a visual quality that did not go unnoticed, I appreciate beauty, I do, there are moments of ok acting and there is this great soundtrack of Tristan and Isolde, there is then the sweet moment of mother Claire by Charlotte Gainsbourg trying to protect her child to no avail, when the hail is falling from the sky right into the golf courts, a bit like golf balls, how inspiring! There is the opening dream-like sequence, very Vogue-like again, real class, and let's not forget there is this fascinating blue planet, that looks friendly, but is ready to devour us. Well, I want to frankly thank you, dear Lars, for making me waste 136 minutes of my life for momentary pleasure only. Is it too much to ask for a shortened version, around 1/3 of the running time? Then, it would be bizarre still, but not tedious and we would remember Udo Kier more than now, cause he was only in the first part of the film.

All the best with your new projects; I'm really looking forward to hearing from you, better from your newly-hired scriptwriter. He may be able to give you something more like Dogville, trust me.

Yours Melancholically,

P.S. One last question: were all the female leads nominated in Cannes Film Festival this year so blunt? I mean, how did Kirsten with a non-expressive face all along could knock them down and win Best Actress? Was there any bribing involved?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ouch it bites!! but it's good to read a different and justified opinion.
Especially since the more well-known a director becomes the more his critics tend to lose objectivity and become his royal entourage :-)
Keep up the good work, I love your film reviews!!