Melancholia Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ November 3, 2011
A sprawling, if flawed, story concerning a woman (Kirsten Dunst) and her self-destruction at her own wedding, coupled with the seemingly imminent threat that a planet off in the distance, named Melancholia, will collide with earth in the near-future. There is a lot going on here despite the onslaught of depression, notably a lot of subtlety and careful reflection of one's life-span. In one sense, it is a frustrating film because it is so detached, but in another way, it keeps the ambiguity and curiosity at an all-time high. Some will find it boring and pretentious, and that's understandable, but I found it to be engrossing and a fascinating, character study on depression. As said, there are a few problems with it, but it is ambitious and thought-provoking, so for that, it gets a recommendation.
Samuel Riley
Super Reviewer
June 19, 2014
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.
Super Reviewer
February 12, 2014
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).
Super Reviewer
November 9, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
½ August 25, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
½ December 17, 2012
Melancholia is one of the most bizarre and surreal films to come out in quite some time. Director Lars Von Trier crafts a perplex picture that is well acted by Kirsten Dunst and this has to be one of her best roles of her career. The rest of the cast are great as well and have effective screen presence. Trier directs a powerful film that is bold, eccentric and depressing. However this is what makes for a wonderful viewing experience that is quite unforgettable. Lars Von Trier showcases his talents perfectly here and he combines the psychological aspects with plenty of drama and disaster elements. This is a terrific piece of cinema that is haunting that is aided with a wonderful story and a strong sense of visuals. The result is one of the most brilliant works in the cinematic medium to come out in quite some time. The film may not appeal to every moviegoer, but to those looking for something a bit different than your usual disaster film, then this is a refreshing new look at that. The film overcomes its flaws, and it does it very well due to the powerful directing of directors Lars Von Trier. This is affine piece of Art House cinema that is a near flawless picture, one that any serious cinema buff can't pass up. Sure the film is slow, well paced and it doesn't have all the trimmings of a big budget extravaganza. This is a wonderful film that is brilliantly constructed from start to finish, and even if it's a tad long, you simply can't tear yourself away due to the powerful performances and unique story.
Super Reviewer
December 10, 2012
After watching this film, I'm feeling quite melancholy myself, as I'm depressed over 2 hours of my life that I'll never get back.

Lars Von Trier who wrote and directed the piece (so he cannot point a finger anywhere else other than back at himself), attempted to create something stately and grand, and although there are a few very visceral and beautiful bits of scenery, this film not only moves at glacial speed, but stays in scenes way too long - making me want to hit the fast forward button... of course I would only do that in a desire to get through to the end of the film, as this is one of the few films in recent memory that I wanted to simply turn off (yeah, I've got a good book to read...).

The film sets itself up to be a metaphor, how the possibility of a grand and damaging event can cause depression and inaction; mirroring the psychological state of melancholy - which has been defined as "the mental or emotional state of depression". Ok, we get it - and really don't need to see endless scenes of that glorious state of mental illness where a person gets stymied by the inability to act (and I'm not talking about Kirsten Dunst here, who does her best with a thorny role).

Looking for further clues - there is a rather nice bit of filming dealing with the collage at the beginning of the film (nice artsy fartsy stuff that once again dwells too long on each frame). One of the first uses of the term "melancholy" was in Shakespeare's Hamlet (the melancholy Dane). In the bard's play, Ophelia is in love with the conflicted Hamlet, and then kills herself when he spurns her love by telling her to "get thee to a nunnery". In the 1800's John Everett Millias painted a wonderful and chilling version of a drowning Ophelia - which the film copies here. A nice touch, but really there is no correlation between Dunst and Ophelia other than a state of depression (in other words, she has not been spurned, mistreated, or had any traumatic event in her upper class, privileged life).

I don't usually mention the filming aspects of a project - but simply feel compelled here, as the film editing is atrocious! Scenes are obviously cut and pasted together and - in one of my pet peeves - the music in a continual scene changes from edit point to edit point - for me there is nothing more jarring (I guess you're not supposed to listen to the background music - but I can't help myself, especially when there's little else going on to hold my attention).

There are a series of scenes right in a row that take place outside the manor house where Dunst runs into one character after another - almost like she is a placeholder and the action revolves around her and through her. But for me this seems like a bunch of stuff that would have otherwise ended up on the cutting room floor, but instead were kludged together... and the sad thing is that none of it advanced the plot (such as it is), so perhaps should have ended up on said floor.

A film dealing with the cataclysmic end of the world scenario could have been poignant and full of pathos - instead Von Triers offers a bloated, self important, over long, badly edited mess of a film. For end of the world offerings, the vignette called Last Night of The World in the film Illustrated Man (based on the Ray Bradbury novel), is much more direct, simple, and for it more heartrendering than this disastrous film.
Super Reviewer
½ July 8, 2012
There are two stories here, one about a marriage that is doomed after the wedding night and one about the impending destruction of the planet.
Kirsten Dunst gives the best performance of her career as a manic depressive bride, but that's about all the credit I can give to this film. Lars von Trier is usually artsy but accessible, but there are so many unanswered questions about the source of the characters' problems that I found myself looking for backstory. And while the dumbshow at the beginning contains beautiful images, it doesn't add to the film's overall effect. And assuming there's a thematic connection between the planet's name, Melancholia, and the state of melancholy, I can't understand why von Trier wouldn't know that melancholy is being sad but happy about it; these characters aren't happy about anything.
Overall, in typical von Trier fashion, this film is peripatetic and unique, but unlike some of his other work, the real movie, one that communicates something and affects an audience, is in his head, not on film.
Super Reviewer
July 6, 2012
The movie starts off with some beautiful, weird-ass images like "The Tree of Life," but I was actually enjoying it because there seemed to be a concrete narrative with some charming wedding humor - the stretch limo unable to make it around the bend of a country dirt road - and some really sociopathic behavior - Justine driving out to the golf course to take a piss and then later, revenge-raping a naive coworker. Kirsten Dunst is truly marvelous in all of Justine's moods, blissfully happy one moment, dead and secretly enjoying it the next.

The story unravels with the end-of-the-world plot in Part II. There's a bit of nihilist philosophy but not enough to actually BE philosophical or statement-making. The Narrative Nazi in me was hoping we'd get to learn why the two sisters have different accents and the origin of "Auntie Steelbreaker," Leo's nickname for Justine.

Despite my criticisms, the movie ends as well as a movie about a planet colliding with the Earth can end: straight to credits. Props for that.
Super Reviewer
½ November 2, 2011
Strange but interesting. Opening sequence bored me to tears, but things pick up once the story begins. Atmospherically wonderful and well-acted -- I could actually feel what it would be like if the world was coming to an end -- but the net effect was one of distaste rather than affinity. Definitely worth a shot if you're into Art House. Or you could just see Mission Impossible and be happy.
Super Reviewer
½ April 26, 2012
Some people call this film a masterpiece, and others may find it confusing and pointless. My opinion falls somewhere in the middle. Throughout the entire film there is mention of a planet called Melancholia, that has been living on the other side of the sun. It has been passing through the universe and will eventually pass by Earth. The film plays as a waiting game in whether or not the planet will collide. The film is broken up into two parts, and honestly, the first half of the film takes place entirely at Justine's (Kirsten Dunst) wedding. It is a very different film, not one that you would see in the cinema's on an everyday venture. I must say that Kirsten Dunst's performance is phenomenal, the cinematography is very Von Trier-like, and the visioning of the film, even though it has a pretty simple premise, is astounding. I loved Melancholia while I was watching it, but you hope not to have the conventional conclusion, which is exactly what you get. "Melancholia" had far too much potential for the film that is was. Highly recommended, but don't expect a spectacular ending. I guess that is something I wronged!
Super Reviewer
½ October 21, 2011
Beautiful to look at, but somehow the movie didn't really catch on with me.
Living hurts for Justine (Dunst). The threat of the approaching planet is a physical metaphor for her mental and physical suffering. Instead of fighting it, she accepts it. It's almost as if this pending destruction of the planet is what she's been anticipating her whole life.
Super Reviewer
½ March 17, 2011
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alexander Skarsgård, Kiefer Sutherland, Brady Corbet, Cameron Spurr, Charlotte Rampling, Jesper Christensen, John Hurt, Stellan Skarsgård, Udo Kier

Director: Lars von Trier

Summary: This inventive drama charts the disintegrating relationship between newly married twentysomething Justine and her melancholy sister, Claire, just as Earth hurtles toward certain collision with a newly discovered planet.

My Thoughts: "Kirsten Dunst is one of the better actresses today. I really enjoyed her depressing performance and thought she did great. The film is has a great cast and they all gave great performances. The film is dark, slow, depressing, but yet beautiful and fascinating. The dramatic music is a nice touch. Justine shows the acceptance of the impending doom. She has given up quite awhile ago anyways and is at peace with it. Claire shows the anxiety and the fear of it. I thought it balanced well. Probably something I wouldn't watch again though. In reallity life is depressing with only moments of happiness.. Well, my opinion of course."
Super Reviewer
½ January 2, 2012
Whoa... Melancholia is an experience. It's ending was so emotionally intense that it literally left me speechless, but that doesn't excuse the first half of the movie, which is long, dull, and aimless. And while this pacing was intentional, in order to get audiences to become attached to the characters, all the patience in the world can't help the fact that just about every single character is unlikeable (despite all of the actors' great performances). Melancholia is a beautiful movie, and if you can bear the initial slog you will be rewarded with a haunting conclusion, but Lars Von Trier has definitely crafted a tough sell.
Super Reviewer
May 21, 2011
H-O-L-Y C-O-W! Do not watch this movie unless you are totally prepared for an extremely boring, drawn out, uneventful, and mildly confusing hour and a half. Do watch it if you ARE prepared, and then brace yourself for what comes next.... I really don't know how I feel about this movie. I'm glad I watched it, but I don't ever want to see it again. Ever. I AM afraid that it will haunt my dreams for awhile...
Super Reviewer
½ May 21, 2011
It's usually tough for me to review "art house" films. It's clear enough to me whether I like one or not, that depends on whether I "get" the movie and whether it has a conclusion that seems satisfactory or not. Melancholia gets a yes in both of those categories. I never felt lost and it was clear that Lars Von Trier had a definitive vision for his work, which I think he achieved. This is a very evocative film, which is the whole point of art house pictures, as far I'm concerned.

Melancholia has great acting, lush cinematography, and an ending that resonated with me. I'd recommend it to anyone with broad a broad taste in cinema.
Super Reviewer
July 15, 2011
This is Depression and Anxiety set against the backdrop of Armageddon. A prodigiously artful expression of disorder.
Super Reviewer
March 25, 2012
Sometimes engrossing, sometimes off-putting, and sometimes breathtaking, Lars von Trier's 'Melancholia' is a film that should coax wildly different opinions from its viewers. The bold cinematography and score make for a powerful and undeniable cinematic experience. The acting is amazing as well, with Dunst positively electrifying in her role. The long run time and dismal story may prove too much for some viewers, but 'Melancholia' is sure to be a movie you'll reflect upon once the credits roll.
Super Reviewer
August 17, 2011
Lars von Trier has stated that MELANCHOLIA is his "happiest" film to date. It's actually incredibly down-beat and depressing (hence the title). but considering his body of work to this point, he may speak the truth. Out of all his films however, "Melancholia" is the one that hit me the hardest; not in the usual dark, dank, Trier sort of way, but with honesty and pure emotion. This is Lars von Trier at his softest and most unmanipulative... and low and behold it's a film about the end of the world! His characters have never felt so real and his films never this intoxicating. I was enthralled by ever inch of this film, and I believe it's von Trier's best, most profound work to date. The first 10 minutes are so achingly beautiful and the film itself; among 2011's finest.
Super Reviewer
June 24, 2011
Lars von Trier certainly makes it hard to review films...I have no idea what to give this. I really like it! Elements in this were absolutely brilliant, but it doesn't make the film any less strange. Gainsbourg gives another fantastic performance, but Kirsten Dunst shines...
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