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Worlds collide in Lars von Trier’s gloomy, off-putting Melancholia

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: ,
 
Starring: , ,
 
Directed By:
 
Studio:
 
MPAA Rating:
 
Release Date: May 26, 2011
 
Length: 130 minutes
 
Directing
6.0


 
Plot
4.0


 
Acting
8.0


 
Cinematography
10


 
Total Score
7.0
7/ 10


 

Whoa


Like all von Trier productions, the visual style is highly distinctive and the lack of rehearsals means that there’s a true sense of immediacy to the acting.

No


Despite fine performances by Dunst and Gainsbourg, who capably portray highly complex characters, the movie’s slow-moving plot and deeply philosophical underpinnings come across as stereotypical art house fodder.


Bottom Line

While certainly not as divisive as his previous film, 2009’s grotesquely violent Antichrist, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia is an exhausting meditation on depression and anxiety.

0
Posted November 14, 2011 by

 
Full Review
 
 

While certainly not as divisive as his previous film, 2009’s grotesquely violent Antichrist, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia is an exhausting meditation on depression and anxiety. Reportedly inspired by Trier’s well-chronicled bouts with depression, the film hasn’t divided critics like Antichrist did. But that doesn’t mean this movie, which just opened at theaters and is available on pay-per-view, is really any more accessible.

The movie commences with a few beautiful images from its conclusion and then flashes back to an elaborate wedding. Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgard) are about to be married, but their limo is having trouble navigating its way up the narrow driveway that leads to the gorgeously isolated manor estate of her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and husband John (Kiefer Sutherland). That’s just the start of the trouble.

Justine suffers from debilitating fits of depression and almost doesn’t make it through the ceremony. During the reception, she tells off her boss, cheats on her husband and argues with her sister. All the while, some kind of cosmic disaster looms as the planet Melancholia moves ever closer to the earth.

In the days and weeks that follow, Claire’s anxiety rises as she sees the planet growing larger in the sky and Justine becomes calm and collected.  While the switch in temperament is intriguing, it’s not enough to make the film bearable. And, because no one except the blameless child does anything to endear themselves to the audience, we have very little stake in the emotional or physical well-being of these characters, which makes it very difficult to sit through 130 minutes of their lives.

Despite fine performances by Dunst and Gainsbourg, who capably portray highly complex characters, the movie’s slow-moving plot and deeply philosophical underpinnings come across as stereotypical art house fodder. Like all von Trier productions, the visual style is highly distinctive and the lack of rehearsals means that there’s a true sense of immediacy to the acting. But that also means the film has an unfinished feel to it, making it a slice-of-life drama that won’t translate beyond the art house circuit.


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