Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland
Director: Lars von Trier
Running Time: 130 mins
Melancholia is a Danish film about the impending threat of a planet that is on a collision course with the Earth, and two sisters whose already strained relationship is put on the same course.
This is a strikingly unsettling tale of the apocalypse like you’ve never seen before. It may be at times a bit of a tiring art film, but in the end, this is a very impressively acted, shot, written and scored film that will leave a pretty big impression on you.
Before we get into the really good stuff about this film, let’s just first talk about its negatives. As with all art films, it’s often pretty tough and tiring to watch, and with this film’s various chapters, it can feel a little clunky and difficult to get through with a sustained interest, particularly for audiences who don’t want such a profound story.
However, there’s no denying the impact that this film has on you. The story is split into three parts: a sort of prologue, then ‘Justine’ and ‘Claire’. Now, the prologue is almost incomprehensible for the first five minutes or so, but still stunning to witness, whilst the two following segments delve deeper into the darker, more depressing ideas of this film.
‘Justine’, played by Kirsten Dunst, begins with her somewhat unorthodox wedding. This part of the story has pretty much no score or visual tricks, simply playing on the depressing idea of the whole wedding night going sour in some of the most cringeworthy and painful ways possible.
That’s probably the more intriguing part of the film, as we see the disturbed character of Justine through Dunst’s brilliant performance and Lars von Trier’s direction and writing.
‘Claire’, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg, is the slower, stiller part of the story. Going from the fascinating intrigue of ‘Justine’, ‘Claire’ doesn’t quite hold up for about half an hour.
However, this is the point where the whole apocalypse comes into the plot, and about halfway through the segment, it becomes really thrilling, mostly thanks to the amazing visuals depicting the planet Melancholia slowly and eerily growing in size on the horizon, as the people of Earth sit there helpless to stop it.
This section is where the technical aspects of the film really come into their own. The cinematography and direction is brilliant, perfectly portraying the main characters’ extreme isolation on an isolated planet on death row in the most unsettling manner, and the score is increasingly intense and powerful as Melancholia begins to approach, continuing to a crescendo point where the planet gets its closest to Earth that will absolutely blow your mind.
Overall, this gets a 7.4, because despite being, on occasion, a difficult art film to get through, it’s still very impacting and impressive to witness.