Victoria Jelinek


Melancholia

Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgard) are celebrating their marriage at an extravagant party in the home of her sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and brother-in-law (Kiefer Sutherland) just as the planet Melancholia is heading towards earth. As the planet threatens to collide with the earth, the two sisters find their relationship challenged and their sense of the world and their place in it in question.

Danish Director and Writer Lars von Trier is no stranger to difficult subject matter as seen in his previous films Dogville, Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark and The Kingdom. Melancholia is about the tension between appearances and ‘reality,’ happiness and sadness, ‘good’ and ‘evil.’ Von Trier is also a man who upsets people both with his work and his words – it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this year (May) where it won Kirsten Dunst a Best Actress Award (a long way away from her role in Spiderman) even as Von Trier was ejected from the festival for offending someone with something he said.

However, as with Von Trier’s previous films, the work speaks for itself: complex, gorgeously shot, beautifully scored, and wonderfully acted, this is a very good film.



The Tree (L’Arbre)

When her father dies suddenly, eight-year-old Simone tells her mother that her dead father speaks to her through the leaves of her favourite tree, a huge Moreton Bay fig. But when her mother, Dawn, starts a relationship with George after he’s called in to remove the tree’s troublesome roots which are going to wreck the house, the bond between mother and daughter is threatened.

This sounds like a  ‘downer’ of a movie, but it’s not. The notion that there is a spirit within the tree is nicely played out and leads to some lovely moments for members of the family, who are all ‘getting on with their lives,’ but who are also coping with their respective loss. French director Julie Bertucelli handles the material with compassion and sensitivity that is, in the French manner, developed slowly; she also draws good performances from her cast (inclusive of the wonderful Charlotte Gainsbourg).

Filmed in Queensland, Australia, the cinematography in The Tree is gorgeous and complements this tale of grief and recovery by using nature as a metaphorical and literal character; the stunning landscapes that fill the screen are evocative and marvellous.