is a great display of Kirsten Dunst’s
acting prowess and a magical use of artistic camera work , but maybe bring some Prozac along for this one.
The film opens with a several minutes of dramatic sweeping scenes that look like they’re straight off of the wall of an art gallery. They foreshadow the dark tale to come. Then, the story falls into two acts. Both are balanced out with a nice sci-fi element of a planet named Melancholia, which is on a collision course with earth.
The first involves Justine (Dunst) on her wedding day. The opening shot is of her limo that is stuck and can’t quite get around a corner, symbolic of how things are about to go. The car trouble makes her late for the reception, which fuels anger amongst her dysfunctional family, which leads to Justine revealing how deep her depression goes. Justine already has a strained relationship with her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg
) and is the only reason Justine makes it through the day. The tragically sad results of her failed day weigh heavy on the viewer as the film pushes into the second act.
In the second act, we witness some beautiful moments of humanity where Claire cares for Justine during her depressive phase. At the same time, we find out that Melancholia might be getting a little too close for comfort. While Justine recovers, the apocalyptic possibility begins to turn Claire on end. Then the roles reverse. Justine is the only character to accept her fate, while Claire does all she can to fight it, while falling to pieces.
One can’t help but wonder why Justine doesn’t seek any help, professional or medical to deal with her sagging depression, but then at the same time, you wonder why even bother if the world is about to end? What is the point of many of the things we do, when they don’t matter in the end. These questions haunt the entire film.
It was genius of director Lars Von Trier to slowly reduce the number of people onscreen during the film to just the few central characters in the end. The movie is set on Claire’s husbands exclusive golf club resort home. You might assume to see some type of collapse of society with the chance of the end of the world. Given their remote location, you don’t see it, except on Claire’s face.
Bottom line is that Melancholia is a beautiful moving piece of art, assuming you can stand the trip to the dark side.