Lars Von Trier’s follow up to 2009’s AntiChrist. Melancholia is told in two chapters. Chapter 1 is Justine. Kirsten Dunst in one of her best roles to date plays Justine. We open the film on the night of her wedding, she goes to her brother in law’s house for their reception party. And you can just tell from the get go, that things are not what they seem to be. If you are familiar with Lars and his resume, you know that you are going to get some solid yet beautifully odd storytelling.( and very passionate imagery) Every time her husband tries to mingle with her or get close, you just look at Justine and see there is something wrong. The beauty of this story is that, instead of letting things play out at one time, Lars spreads them out. You watch as Justine loses all grasp of reality, love and family. Chapter 2 is Claire. Claire is Justine’s sister, who you seem to get clues in the first half is more of a keeper than a sister. This chapter shows Justine suffering from mental illness and the majority of the half, focuses on a planet called Melancholia and it’s 5 day descent to destroy earth. At first John ( played by Kiefer Sutherland) tells his wife Claire there is nothing to worry about, while in the back of his mind he is preparing for the worst.
Melancholia has a lot of similarities to AntiChrist. Especially in the forest scene, where Kirsten is nude laying by the stream and is almost angelic in the glow of Melancholia as it approaches. Where almost anyone else would have freaked out or panicked that the end was that close, she seemed to embrace the fate that was coming. Charlotte Gainsbourg ( from AntiChrist) plays Claire. This film is built as a vehicle for Kirsten, but Charlotte truly shines just as much. In the first hour of the film we watch Justine on her wedding night, pee on a golf course and have sex with one of her male co workers. You immediately get the feeling, Melancholia is not the only thing spiraling out of control, that Justine is spiraling in the same direction. This film is beautifully shot with an amazing musical background. The opening credits are jaw dropping and awe inspiring.
I think if Lars never made his speech that pissed off so many, this film would have been on the oscar ballot. This is one of those once in a lifetime films. Be warned– As AntiChrist was very sexually graphic, this film is very depressing. The way it hints at mental illness is smart. The characters in this film are either mentally damaged or naive. This film builds tension in the most simple way, human emotion. Like when Justine quits her job, you just feel her speech as a call to arms to all people not to take anything from their bosses. When her divorced parents make their speeches at her reception, you almost knew something was going to happen and you sat there at the edge of your seat and waited. And with Lars, nothing is drawn out or spelled out, you have to pay attention.
There is no doubt in my mind, this should have been 2011’s best picture at this years’ oscars. I know people are going to ask about how does this compare to AntiChrist. I will say this, I would compare this to two other of his earlier films that I was a huge fan of. This film had parts of Dancer in the Dark mixed with Breaking the Waves. ( If you have not seen either, seek them out)
9 out of 10