Melancholia Movie Review

December 19, 2011

It’s a film about the end of the world. It’s got a killer cast with everyone from Kirsten Dunst to Kiefer Sutherland. It’s directed by that controversial Danish guy. Yes, Melancholia is weird, but it’s quite wonderful too.

Melancholia is pitched as a beautiful movie about the end of the world, and that couldn’t be more spot on. It is a film about the end of the world, and it is truly beautiful. Every scene is a visual feast.

This is a Lars von Trier film, and whether you’ve just heard of him or seen one or two of his movies, you’ve been warned. He’s controversial, and makes weird, sometimes terrible, sometimes mind-blowing movies. Melancholia is much more accessible; it’s Lars von Trier, lite.

The performances are gorgeous, from Kirsten Dunst, who rightly won Best Actress at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for her role as Justine, to a surprisingly perfect, slightly creepy Kiefer Sutherland. See it for the talent alone.

And what’s incredible is that what you’re seeing is improvisation. Trier’s directorial style means no rehearsals; instead, the actors receive instructions between takes.

The movie is divided into two halves. The first half, a lavish wedding between Justine and Michael (True Blood’s sexy Alexander Skarsgård), reaches highs and lows, and introduces us to Justine’s emotional distance and melancholy. But there’s another Melancholia heading their way, the eponymous planet, which plagues Claire (brilliant Charlotte Gainsbourg), Justine’s sister, in act two. She’s obsessed with the idea of this planet crashing into earth, despite husband John (Sutherland) assuring her it won’t. Who is right?

Is Melancholia depressing? I don’t think so, although friends have had strong reactions to it. The end of the world is a human preoccupation, as is the fate of our planet, and that’s where the movie suffers – it doesn’t really explore these ideas, it’s more style over substance. But it’s impressive, a little spooky, and a true original

Have you seen Melancholia? What did you think?

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