Depression and a Huge-ass Planet – Melancholia Review

Lars Von Trier may have recently upset the Cannes Film Festival board for comments (in my opinion) that were really blown out of proportion, but theres no denying his visual art and unique story telling is one that is compelling and captivating. ‘Melancholia’ his new film has gotten quite the following.


Melancholia is the name of the super-earth planet on a collision course with earth. In the prologue, it’s course and the destruction it causes is shown in a montage of beautifully crafted scenes, little pieces of emotion-provoking visual aesthetics along with the Tristan Und Isolde’s prelude in the bed (a common theme throughout the film). It is known within the first sequence that earth never survives, and instantly recognize this will not end happy. However the film is not about earth, the planet nor is it about humanities end. It’s focused on two sisters, Kirsten Dunst as Justine and Charlotte Gainsbourg as Claire.

Split into two parts Justine is first as you spend the first hour watching how a clinically depressive bride spends her wedding reception. Kirsten Dunst is absolutely impecable at playing Justine, Trier is known for his pro-improvised techniques and when watching Kirsten it is quite hard to believe that it wasn’t scripted as such. However I found myself getting extremely annoyed and impatient with the character Justine so much that I didn’t know if I could take anymore. That only made me realise that Trier, possibly in one hour gave the best explanation what it is like to handle someone with that amount of depression. You literally mimic her sister, Claire and Claire’s husband John’s (Kiefer Sutherland) reaction towards her.

Part two of course is about Claire. Claire takes in a very sick Justine, that with the added pressure of the rogue planet Melancholia approaching. Claire finds her relationship with John on a rocky patch as John is fearless and has faith that humanity will survive, unlike Claire who fears otherwise. We follow Claire’s erratic behaviour for the rest of the film which has a little more going on. Charlotte Gainsbourg portrays Claire beautifully and seems to really get involved with the character.

Melancholia is literally beautiful in many ways. The message and the comparison of how the two sister react to the impending doom is prominent backed by visuals that are compelling and outstanding that are obviously a projection of Trier himself. The opening and final sequences are completely captivating as well as terrifying, unlike most blockbusters this film seems to make it real and will have you talking about for weeks after you have seen it. The ending was probably the best ending I have ever seen, not because of some morbid feelings but because the whole scene wasn’t some watered-down hollywood fairytale, but a fantastic depiction of reality and the special effects as the Planet collided into Earth’s atmosphere was scary but also very stunning. The film left me with a weird feeling which was “I must talk about this to people.”

Overall the film is definitely up there 9.5/10 – However I must warn, this style of film is not for everyone, it is not a blockbuster. If you are interested in the film, I urge you to at least try it. Currently available on iTunes and limited screenings nationwide.
(In Coventry – Warwick Arts Centre)

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