Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Whole Universe of Melancholia

Melancholia is an intensely subjective film. However there are no hints in its formal schema to indicate this. The camera is omniscient: There are no POV shots, no subjective flashbacks and it is not wedded to any one character in particular. In this way no one characters' perspective on the world is allowed to dominate. Indeed the film is structured in two sections so that it can first study the clinically depressed Justine's reaction to an intensely happy event (her marriage) and then secondly the ordinary Claire's reaction to an intensely unhappy event (the end of the world), while contrasting their demeanour with that of the other.

But despite its apparent even-handedness the game is rigged from the start because the film is expressionistic: the universe that Claire and Justine live in is not ours and it is built to conform to the depressive's worldview. For me the key to realising this is the scene in which Justine insists that she knows things and then is shown to be right three times in quick succession. The world embodies her worst imaginings: Nearly everyone at the wedding fails her: they're either ill-intentioned (her boss), totally unhelpful (her mother), frivolously self-interested (her father, her brother-in-law) or well-meaning but hopelessly misunderstanding (her husband). More importantly Melancholia's improbable arrival and impact validate her central belief: Life and whatever attendant happiness it may bring is quickly swept away.

Remembering Kevin

The entire past storyline of We Need to Talk about Kevin is told subjectively. There are any number of devices along the way which indicate this but the what makes it absolutely certain is the final scene in which Eva asks Kevin why he did it. It's at this moment that, if you hadn't realised it earlier, it becomes clear that her remembrances of the past have been an attempt to ascertain what it was that led him murder his fellow students.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Defending the Block

Seeing a "youth-orientated" film at a big chain cinema made for a different trailer viewing experience to the one I've grown accustomed to. On one hand I avoided the enervating promo for The Woman on the Sixth Floor, on the other hand I was bombarded with the sheer cynicism with which teen marketers approach their task. It seems they feel kids are easy prey for generic fantasies, so long as they throw in some shaky-cam to make it all feel real; either that or they think that by doing this, removing the titles and credits and inserting a link they can build “viral buzz”.