Charlotte Gainsbourg and Kiefer Sutherland in Melancholia Keep watching the skies! Charlotte Gainsbourg and Kiefer Sutherland in Melancholia © Christian Geisnaes

Cosmic destruction, Nazi jokes and a sexy Kirsten Dunst can't help Chris Sullivan warm to Lars Von Trier's Melancholia...

I wouldn’t have given Lars von Trier’s latest outing Melancholia a Leprechaun’s inch but I found someone else’s copy of The Telegraph on the train and read Sukhdev Sandhu's review: “A crazily bold, visually enthralling and emotionally seismic drama about the meaning of existence.”

Having sat through it twice now and I can safely say it isn’t. So, reeling as if slapped around the head with a large sea bass, I realised it’s my duty to save you from wasting your time on such mind-numbing nonsense.
I will admit to liking director Lars Von Trier’s last effort – the controversial Antichrist, even though I had to see it twice to get my head around it.

So I expected great things from him and the stellar cast he’d assembled for Melancholia. He has Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg as sisters Justine and Claire – each half of the film is named after them.

Dunst arrives with bridegroom Michael (Alexander Skarsgård) at an absurdly lavish country house where her brother-in-law John (Kiefer Sutherland) has stumped up for her wedding reception.

null Lars Von Trier with the cast of Melancholia © Christian Geisnaes

The reception limps from bad to awful after the happy couple arrive two hours late; Justine’s grizzly dad (John Hurt) gets on the bad side of her poisonous mum (Charlotte Rampling) and the wedding planner (Udo Kier) is all of a tizzy: his wedding plans ruined by the happy couple.

Meanwhile Justine has dumped her hubby and shags a stranger on the grass while all around a general sense of dark and eerie foreboding chokes the celluloid.

In part two, Claire takes over and turns into a harbinger of doom as she watches the approaching of a big blue planet called Melancholia that has narrowly avoided collision with Earth for millennia.

Despite Sutherland’s assurances that it won’t destroy the Earth, it ploughs straight ahead and does exactly that!

But don’t worry I haven’t spoiled your enjoyment as there isn’t any. It’s just one big bag of irritating neuroses swathed in stilted dialogue that left me asking ‘Why?’

Dunst is very good, though. But her performance alone can't compensate for the hours of misery that make up Melancholia. 

As a side note, just as planet Earth was hit by a cataclysm in Melancholia, so the film was overtaken by controversy at the Cannes Film Festival when Von Trier claimed to sympathise with Hitler and declared himself to be a Nazi

He said later it was all a big joke (he was answering a question about his German heritage) but the damage was done. The festival kicked him out and the French are claiming trying to prosecute him for justifying war crimes.

So he's decided to keep his mouth shut for good:

"Today at 2 pm I was questioned by the Police of North Zealand in connection with charges made by the prosecution of Grasse in France from August 2011 regarding a possible violation of prohibition in French law against justification of war crimes. The investigation covers comments made during the press conference in Cannes in May 2011. Due to these serious accusations I have realized that I do not possess the skills to express myself unequivocally and I have therefore decided from this day forth to refrain from all public statements and interviews."


Lars von Trier


After the screening I was DJing in the wonderful Victoria & Albert Museum for the closing night of the London Design Festival. The host was its director Ben Evans whose wife Amanda Levete created one of the festival’s most notable installations.

The bash attracted the cream of UK’s design fraternity such as recyclist Esther Coombs, product designer Tim Parsons and interior designer Lee Broom and stalwarts Nigel Coates and David Adaje.

“We’ve become a marketplace of ideas,” says Ben Evans. “The great thing about design is that it is borderless. It’s very encouraging that many of our designers are from other countries but choose to live here.

“So London is now the place where the idea is generated and where the deal is done, even if the manufacturing happens elsewhere.”

That's how you talk to the Press, Lars.

Melancholia is in cinemas now

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