Lars von Trier's Melancholia is a perfect example of why releasing all the year's quality films in a rush starting around Thanksgiving is a flawed stategy. Certain films require time to sit and stew in our subconscious before they reach their full effect. Immediately following my first viewing of Von Trier's film I wrote, "Melancholia would have to qualify as a minor disappointment...". There was no question the film had made a deep impression on me, but it felt at the time that just as many of the film's elements detracted from that impression as added to it. Wasn't the symbolism too heavy handed? Didn't splitting narrative in two sap the film's momentum? Could any movie possibly live up to that jaw-dropping opening, which suggests Disney's Fantasia by way of a Doomsday cult?
It turns out the answer is that none of it mattered. You could make an objective case for any of these issues and more being flaws in the film. But what difference do flaws make when even the film's missteps lead toward its shattering impact? Four months later and my memory can still summon the steadily encroaching dread that gathered in my chest as the story drifted to its horrible conclusion. I now realize a more perfect Melancholia would not necessarily be a better Melancholia. It's dark, nerve-jangling vibe needs strokes that are too bold, characters that are too reckless, a plot that flies apart in too many directions. A more carefully considered film could never disturb the spirit like this half-mad eulogy for the Earth. It is a film that by all rights should add up to a mess, a grand folly. It just happens that it adds up to some kind of cracked masterpiece. All I can say for sure is that I am not done rolling it over in my mind and I won't be for the foreseeable future.
Previously on the Countdown
07. Attack the Block
09. Miss Bala
--- Runners Up