For all the tyrannical disdain he's shown other filmmakers over the years, von Trier once again demonstrates a mastery of classical technique, extracting incredibly strong performances from his cast while serving up a sturdy blend of fly-on-the-wall naturalism and jaw-dropping visual effects.
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Von Trier's latest fable is nothing without its blaze of majesty - or, as his detractors would say, its bombast.
The vision is as hateful as it is hate-filled, but the fusion of form and content is so perfect that it borders on the sublime.
The poetic, referential succession of near-still images that opens the film so immaculately distills Melancholia's moody narrative and themes that it makes the two-hours-plus that follow seem impossibly redundant.
Melancholia hovers in ambiguity with riveting aesthetic prowess.
Plenty of moments in Melancholia are painfully funny. Some moments are even painful to watch, but there was never a moment when I thought about the time or my next movie or did not care about the characters or had anything less than complete interest in what was happening on the screen.
Von Trier is a burr under the hide for many viewers, and the unconverted won't be convinced. But it's audacious, beautiful, tactful filmmaking and perhaps the perfect match for "The Tree Of Life" on a bipolar double bill.
A movie masterpiece...is Lars von Trier's ecstatic magnum opus on the themes of depression, cataclysm, and the way the world might end.
The second half, though, simply descends into chaotic banality as the sisters await their fate.
Melancholia is a remarkable mood piece with visuals to die for (excuse the pun), and a performance from Dunst that runs the color spectrum of emotions.