Melancholia is going to either be a movie you love, you don’t understand at all, or you hate. I personally loved it, but other movie-goers that were in the same screening as I either left midway through – or let out a huge sigh at the end of the movie saying “Thank God.” Only two people clapped as the credits rolled, showing that they at least realized the magic that they had just witnessed. One thing is for sure, if the opening sequence doesn’t intrigue you – then you might as well head out. It’s a beautifully emotional film that will get under your skin and will stick with you long after the credits roll.
Yes, Melancholia is slow paced, but that pace allows the viewer time to truly appreciate what’s going on. On the surface, the viewer might feel that the beginning of the movie and the 2nd half of the film – are two completely different stories. However, what this film does is give you a look inside these individuals’ lives – and exactly how they’re dealing with the impending end of the world. There are people in denial, there are people who need to be in control, and there are others who are severely depressed, because if the world is going to end – what does it all matter anyways?
The film starts out at the wedding of Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgård). It’s an elaborate party that appears to spare no expense – only Justine doesn’t really seem to be enjoying it. Depression comes over her in waves as she tries to plaster a smile on her face and take part in what should be the happiest day of her life. Her sister Charlotte and her brother-in-law (Kiefer Sutherland) try to get through to her – while other members of her family such as her mother just tells it like it is. “Enjoy it while it lasts,” her mother says in her wedding toast.
Justine notices a red dot in the sky the night of her wedding, and later as the dot moves closer to Earth – we realize that it’s Melancholia – a planet that is doing a death dance with Earth. While some predict that it will miss Earth entirely – others fear that it will crash into us as it tries to pass by.
Melancholia is a bizarre movie that though set in present day seems eerily from the past. It will leave you trying to figure out what it all meant for days after you’ve seen it. To me, these are always the best films – ones that you really have to pull apart in order to understand. I think it’s safe to say that this film has Oscar nominee written all over it. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful and thought-provoking films of 2011.
Well done Lars von Trier, well done.
Review By: Emma Loggins