¨Life is only on Earth. And not for long. ¨
Melancholia as its name suggests is a very depressing movie starring Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg as two troubled sisters. Danish director Lars von Trier (Antichrist and Dogville) suffered from depression himself and decided to use his personal experience and share his emotions with the viewer in this melancholic film. The story is interesting at some points and the visuals are really stylish, but I am not a big fan of these dark, depressing movies so I didn’t have a pleasant experience. Lars von Trier wrote the screenplay himself as he usually does with his work and filmed the movie in Sweden so the scenery is actually quite beautiful, but the story and characters are too dark for my personal taste. The film is really slow and consists of two parts, one focusing on each sister. The long opening scene set the mood for the entire movie with music from Wagner`s ¨Tristan and Isolde.¨ You can fall asleep with how slow the pace is. This is definitely not a movie for everyone, but those of you who enjoy these depressing movies might have a good time it thanks to the great visual style and the psychological study of the characters. I understood the message that the director was trying to get across, and I actually enjoyed his work in Dogville, but I just wasn’t entertained with Melancholia and found time moving so slowly that the film seemed like it was never going to end. A much better film dealing with depression that I recommend and also came out this year is The Beaver starring Mel Gibson. His performance is much more deserving of recognition than Kirsten Dunst`s work in this film for which she won the best actress award in the Cannes Festival.
The movie opens with a long eight minute scene where we are introduced to some of the scenes that occur during the movie in a very artistic style, like if we were viewing a live painting. We also see how a planet (which we later learn is called Melancholia) is headed towards Earth and collides with it. Then the movie begins with the first part called Justine and it focuses on her (Kirsten Dunst) wedding reception. She seems happy at first as she kisses her new husband Michael (Alexander Skarsgard), but we can tell there is something off about her. She is trying to hide her depression with fake smiles, but she can`t take it for long. Her sister, Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), and her brother-in-law, John (Kiefer Sutherland), have spent a lot of money on the wedding reception and are a bit disappointed with the way things are turning out. Their parents, Dexter (John Hurt) and Gaby (Charlotte Rampling), who are divorced have a discussion in front of everyone, so that doesn’t help either. Justine can`t keep on pretending to be happy and all of a sudden tells her boss, Jack (Stellan Skarsgard) that he is a selfish person, she ignores Michael, and ends up having sex with Jack`s nephew, Tim (Brady Corbet). The second part of the story is titled Claire and it takes place at their residence a couple of months after the disastrous wedding. Everyone is aware now that a planet seems to be heading towards Earth, although John (as the scientist he is) assures them that it will just pass by. Justine`s depression is getting worse and worse, but she seems to not care much about the possible collision. It`s Claire`s turn now to suffer anxiety and panic attacks as she fears for the worst.
It`s interesting to see how von Trier plays out this film, making us see how unbalanced Justine is at her wedding. Kirsten Dunst captures her depression really well (although I don’t think it is Oscar worthy if you ask me). Then in the second part of the film we see how all of a sudden the table turns and Justine seems to be the stronger of the two. Justine goes from needing to being taken care of to caring for her sister Claire when she can`t deal with the issue. Even John who seemed to be always in control ends up taking the easy way out. Lars von Trier knew exactly what he was doing because suffering from depression himself he knew that melancholic people tend to deal better under pressure. Kirsten Dunst really transmits this idea through her character, but I still think there have been better and more deserving works this year. I really wasn’t entertained with this movie, and I don’t plan on ever seeing it again. I couldn`t recommend it, although I understand all the buzz it is receiving with the critics. The movie was melancholic, it did its job, but I am just not the kind of guy who is interested in these movies. I was plain and simply bored with Melancholia.