Lars von Trier’s Melancholia is everything that we have come to expect from the director. It is a bold statement and engrossing tale of the meaning of existence through the eyes of a visionary. As expected, it is a visual masterpiece that enthralls the viewer with every frame and reminds us why we love cinema.
With a star studded cast including Kirsten Dunst, Kiefer Sutherland and Charlotte Gainsbourg, each of which provide brilliant performances, Melancholia is a hypnotizing tale that melds together stories of a beautiful wedding gone awry and another tale of a planet called Melancholia hurtling towards Earth, carrying with it the prospect of mankind’s extinction.
Dunst gives an unforgettable performance in her role as Justine, a woman teetering on the verge of mental illness and offers us the memory of one of the worst weddings in history. Equally as mesmerising was Charlotte Gainsbourg as Justine’s sister, Claire. both of these performances were enough to be able to carry the film, but there is not a weak performance throughout the entire film.
Melancholia plays off in two chapters, each of which have their own uses and tell there own intermingled tales. The first chapter centers around the wedding of Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and her husband (Alexander SkarsgÃ¥rd) arriving two hours late for their elegant wedding reception. Justine takes many liberties at the reception including urinating on a golf course and having sex with a young stranger on the same course. She badmouths her employer and comes and goes as she pleases. What seems like many unlikely scenarios actually seem to make sense in this chaotic event where everyone is at each other’s throats.
The second chapter focuses moreso on the event of Melancholia’s descent towards Earth. This chapter focuses more on Justine’s take on what is going on as the previous chapter was Claire’s side of things. Each chapter is distinct to the other, but both are equally brilliant in terms of direction and production.
Overall, being a fan of von Trier’s previous work, I was highly entertained with this landmark effort of his, and while the film is pretentious at times, I believe that the focus remains on the film itself and not the art. Lars von Trier’s Melancholia is not for everytone though, so tread carefully before jumping into this one.