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Melancholia (2011)


Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 181
Fresh: 142
Rotten: 39

Critics Consensus: Melancholia's dramatic tricks are more obvious than they should be, but this is otherwise a showcase for Kirsten Dunst's acting and for Lars von Trier's profound, visceral vision of depression and destruction.

Average Rating: 7.1/10
Reviews Counted: 47
Fresh: 37
Rotten: 10

Critics Consensus: Melancholia's dramatic tricks are more obvious than they should be, but this is otherwise a showcase for Kirsten Dunst's acting and for Lars von Trier's profound, visceral vision of depression and destruction.


Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 41,873


Movie Info

Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgård) are celebrating their marriage at a sumptuous party in the home of her sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and brother-in-law (Kiefer Sutherland). Meanwhile, the planet, Melancholia, is heading towards Earth... Melancholia is a psychological disaster movie from director Lars von Trier. -- (C) Official Site

R (for some graphic nudity, sexual content and language)
Drama , Art House & International , Mystery & Suspense , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
Lars von Trier
In Theaters:
Mar 13, 2012
Box Office:
Magnolia Pictures - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Melancholia

All Critics (184) | Top Critics (47) | Fresh (142) | Rotten (39) | DVD (5)

"Melancholia" is a hauntingly beautiful meditation on depression that is as likely to exasperate as many people as it moves.

Full Review… | December 1, 2011
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

Melancholia floats in an air of supernatural malaise and tension, a melancholy mirrored in everything and everyone.

Full Review… | November 29, 2011
Top Critic

Melancholia will haunt you for days, maybe weeks.

Full Review… | November 23, 2011
Top Critic

A severe and ecstatic work of art.

Full Review… | November 23, 2011
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic

No moviemaker I know creates psychodramas so hard to watch and difficult to forget. If we esteem Sylvia Plath, Vincent van Gogh and Samuel Beckett, Von Trier deserves our attention, too.

Full Review… | November 22, 2011
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

It's a credit to the director's persistence of vision that he finds such eerie images to adorn this wispy tree of death. Like a newborn planet, "Melancholia" is magnetically beautiful, but it's also an unformed mass of hot air.

Full Review… | November 21, 2011
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

The journey von Trier has taken to this one immaculate moment has been bold to say the least, but at long last, he has revealed his full ability, and the result is his masterwork.

Full Review… | August 13, 2013

It's the little moments that annihilate us, every day, every normal day. Days that don't end, days when the end of the world is a comfort that the sick like Justine cannot afford.

Full Review… | June 22, 2013

A strong central performance from Kirsten Dunst, this is one of the best Lars von Trier films yet made.

Full Review… | March 21, 2013
Cinema Sight

Melancholia is not about the end of the world, but the end of a feeling: happiness.

Full Review… | February 19, 2013
Gordon and the Whale

You would think that material like this would make for a fascinating film, but unfortunately that doesn't end up being the case.

Full Review… | September 18, 2012

An extraordinarily ambitious exercise in nihilism.

Full Review… | August 25, 2012

Much more compelling than the narratively confused Tree of Life, and a welcome return to form for the mad Dane.

Full Review… | July 30, 2012

While existence hangs in the balance in Melancholia, von Trier's fatalistic embrace of impending doom is starkly beautiful and strangely reassuring.

Full Review… | June 20, 2012
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

A lot of people will hate Melancholia for all the reasons it's not like other sci-fi films or traditional dramatic films - and others such as myself will love it for its difference.

Full Review… | May 8, 2012
2UE That Movie Show

While I appreciated what it was trying to do, I wasn't wild about it.

Full Review… | April 6, 2012
7M Pictures

This is not a feel-good movie. This is the frigid, hard-to-embrace cinematic opposite of a feel-good movie, in fact -- all wrapped in one long, dark metaphor for depression.

Full Review… | February 17, 2012

It's impossible not to be moved in a profound way by the small events that take place within the larger one.

Full Review… | January 30, 2012
Common Sense Media

A strange mix of apocalyptic sci-fi and darkly comic social drama, the film is glacially slow in tempo but filled with stunning, gorgeously shot images. It will annoy as many viewers as it charms.

Full Review… | January 25, 2012
Movie Talk

It's an enormous pity Trier didn't find/commission an overarching score that supported his vision.

Full Review… | January 23, 2012

Melancholia takes great pleasure in distressing its audience with ugly, harrowing imagery and behavior, but, more often that not, Von Trier's film is an exhibition of life's beauty and the shame it would be to watch it burn.

Full Review… | December 29, 2011

...a seriously oppressive piece of work.

Full Review… | December 28, 2011
Reel Film Reviews

Pitched as a beautiful movie about the end of the world, Melancholia succeeds.

Full Review… | December 21, 2011

A divine piece of post-apocalyptic cinema.

Full Review… | December 17, 2011
Cinema Crazed

Von Trier finds a way to give his characters a moment of grace, of the sort we're not used to seeing in his films. That feels like artistic growth, even if he had to destroy the world to get there.

Full Review… | December 16, 2011
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

An overpowering large-screen experience for those willing to enter von Trier's 'magic cave,' where emotional 'reality' trumps the laws of physics.

Full Review… | December 14, 2011
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Audience Reviews for Melancholia

The second instalment in Von Trier's Depression Trilogy is a real highpoint as the provocative director presents audiences with one of his true masterpieces. Kirsten Dunst pulls of her career defining performance as she flawlessly presents a central character who struggles with depression, which ultimately ruins the most important day in her life: the wedding day. To make matters worse, a planet called Melancholia heads towards the planet and doom is inevitably going to fall upon mankind.
Forget about any ideas of cities full of panicking people or over destructive natural hazards for which one person or family amazingly survives despite all odds. Here we focus on the emotional struggle Dunst has with her depression. Then there's Charlotte Gainsbourg, whose character attempts to both handle supporting her sister and the stress of knowing Earth will be destroyed.
'Melancholia' is a beautifully made film which left me both amazed and emotionally moved throughout every moment. Despite a few factors which may affect the attention of some viewers, they shouldn't get in the way with how much Von Trier does right.

Samuel Riley
Samuel Riley

Super Reviewer

I'm not sure what to really think about this. I suppose I give it a low rating because it failed to make a deep impression on me. It left me a bit confused about the message this was trying to portray (that we should take advantage of every moment we have left in our lives? that life is not important and that we shouldn't care?). Dunst is good as the depressed bride ruining her wedding (it is weird that her sister has a British accent). The problem with it is exactly in how some critics describe the film: "baffling but brilliant" and "as likely to exasperate as many people as it moves". I think I'm one of the few who found themselves on the negative end of the spectrum as I didn't find anything psychologically interesting about what this film was trying to say. I can understand that this is a film exploring depression and that the answers it gives won't be comforting, but I just found the slow pace and artsy scenes too bland and aggravating. Or maybe I just didn't like von Trier's vision this time around (me being quite a fan of his).

Wildaly M

Super Reviewer

Science fiction by its very nature is taking a scientific theory, extrapolating it into a fictional conceit and examining its impact on society and the human psyche; in this sense Melancholia is pure science fiction. But while most film makers (mentioning no names...) examine the impact of a bug-eyed monster invasion on the lives of American meat-heads with big guns, wise cracking computer nerds and Maxim cover girls, Lars Von Trier instead uses the idea of the apocalypse to examine the nature of anxiety and depression. The story is split into two parts; the first features Kirsten Dunst's newly wed suffering under the burden of crippling depression on her wedding night, the second featuring her sister whose fear for the life and welfare of her son escalates as Melancholia approaches. As with most of Von Trier's films it is a mixture of introspective character study, striking imagery and pretentiousness but he does coax some fine performances from his leads and it is a thought provoking film as it lays bear the struggles of living with depression and its effect on those who care for its victim. It's very slow moving and virtually devoid of action and so will bore Michael Bay fans to tears, but to those with a more open mind it's an interesting piece if only for its wildly differing take on sci-fi from the mainstream.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer


Although this is the first film of his I've actually sat down to watch, I am familiar with Lars von Trier and what he does.

What we get here is an apocalyptic drama centered around a rogue planet that is on a collision course with Earth. The story is told in two parts and focusing (primarily) on two sisters, Justine: a severely depressed newlywed and Claire who is quite wealthy and tries to look after/help Justine.

The film doesn't try to be scientifically accurate in terms of the astrophysics, but as a treatise on depression/melancholy and how different people react to looming crisis, it's actually pretty good. Especially with how depression is portrayed. That probably has something to do with the fact that a lot of this is based on von Trier's own experiences with depression.

I actually found this to have a lot in common with Rachel Getting Married, due to wedding plot points, depression, bummed out characters, and the fact that both films are rambling, meandering, slow, and pretentious, artsy indies. That film was annoying though. This one, though it might be difficult, is sorta easier to tolerate, even though it is rather hard to sit through at times.

Yeah, it's over long, and perhaps too slow, but I found this to be less boring than I anticipated. Where the film really excels is in being ethereal as well as absolutely gorgeous. The look here is really striking at times, especially during the big tableaux shots. Some of the handheld stuff is great too, but the big stuff, especially the prologue, is just brilliant. The same goes for the use of music, which is the frequent repetition of the prologue from Tristan Und Isolde by Wagner.

Kirsten Dunst gives basically her best performance of her career so far as Justine. She's really engaging and a joy to watch, even though she's playing such a joyless and damaged character. Charlotte Gainsbourg is fine as Claire, though not as strong as Dunst. I liked seeing Kiefer Sutherland as Claire's husband John, as well as the hamminess of Udo Kier and John Hurt. Both Stellan and Alexander Skarsgard appear, but unfortunately there's not enough of them, especially Alexander.

This is definitely a challenging film, but it can be rewarding if you give it a chance. I'm torn on the specific rating, so let's split it between 3.5 and 4 stars.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Melancholia Quotes

Six hundred and seventy eight. The bean lottery. Nobody guessed the number of beans in the bottle.
No, that's right.
But I know. Six hundred and seventy eight.
Well, perhaps. But what does that prove?
That I know things. And when I say we're alone, we're alone. Life is only on earth. And not for long.
– Submitted by Diane H (18 months ago)
Those bitches have locked themselves in their bedrooms and are now taking baths. Is everyone in your family stark raving mad?
– Submitted by Samuel C (18 months ago)
The way I see it, you're now short of a boss and a husband, could I, in all humility, offer my services? You have the ideas. I have the head for business. We could be the perfect couple. We've had good sex.
– Submitted by Dov D (2 years ago)
Too bad about Tim.
What about Tim?
That he got fired. he didn't last many hours in the business, but then again, it's a rather unpredictable one. You're a king one day and beggar the next.
– Submitted by Dov D (2 years ago)
If your dad said that, then he's forgotten about something. He's forgotten about the magic cave.
– Submitted by Dov D (2 years ago)
It looks friendly.
– Submitted by Merle R (2 years ago)

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