Split into Vols 1 and 2, abridged and censored - total runtime: 4hr 1min
Don’t particularly feel passionate about this one; it’s ok. First half is more playful and structurally risky (mixed results). Second half is more engaging and better told, albeit hampered by increasingly prescriptive and frustrating duologue interjections from Gainsbourg and Skarsgard.
Shia and Slater need accent coaches, both were awful, especially LaBeouf, whose accent was so jarring it hampered characterisation and, by extension, the entire arc of his character. Thurman and Bell anchored what were the best sequences in the film, the former a great piece of black comedy, the latter a confronting scene akin to Seidl’s Paradise trilogy (but not as well shot). Gainsbourg is reasonably solid but time jump in character between her and Stacy Martin is poor.
Von Trier might be his own worst enemy in this movie, filling the film with certain crystallised concepts (painful rants about society housed in character development) and completely vague notions about sexuality and Joe as a person, who I don’t even know if I care about by the film’s end (as the second half drifts off down oddly genre-heavy narrative we feel less attached to sexual obsession in first volume).
Definitely bites off more than it can chew, dropping plot elements and bringing some in so late (soul trees as emotional catharsis?) that they mar any genuine overview of the film’s narrative movements.
Ending is fairly problematic, near audience-insulting but moreso disappointing. Felt lazy and abrupt, essentially rendering an element of the plot structure null-and-void (by extension perhaps making the entire experience of the film pointless). Mostly highlights unsatisfying way to deal with a seemingly expansive “life story”.
Logged on Letterboxd