Melancholia - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Melancholia Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ September 14, 2016
Where does one even begin a review about Lars Von Trier's film that was inspired by one his depressive episodes. Where would you begin? I guess first things first, this movie is ambitious as fuck, there's certainly no denying that. I haven't watched many Von Trier films if I'm being completely honest, though I've wanted to see Dancer in the Dark for a long time. While I certainly respect his style and approach towards filmmaking, his movie just generally haven't appealed to me that much. Don't know why. And this is coming from someone who enjoyed Antichrist, but his films have never caught my attention. It goes without saying that I think the guy is talented, but, again, his movies just haven't caught my attention. But, if I'm being completely honest, much like a lot of his films, this will cause a polarizing reactions. Some will find it to be an absolute masterpiece and others will find it to be a pretentious and infuriating piece of work. And I can see both sides of the equation. Like the first 8 minutes of the film are just slo-mo images set to classical music basically showing the ending of the film. Part of me gets the reasoning behind it, but part of me also feels that it was completely unnecessary. It doesn't add anything to the movie one way or the other. I wouldn't say the film is genius, but I can see how someone might feel that it was. I fall somewhere in the middle. Part of me hated this film, like the first part focusing on Justine's wedding. Not that the wedding itself and everything that happened wasn't relevant to where the film wanted to go, but a lot of parts of it feel more like self-serving as opposed something that is meant to help the overall narrative. Though, again, I do feel that it served a purpose. Justine, basically, during her wedding screws herself out of a job and out of her own marriage by fucking someone else on the golf course. You get to see how Justine's behavior goes up and down from depressed to happy to angry and then back to depressed again. She's clearly a woman who is not very stable mentally. Which leads us to the second part of the film, focusing more on Justine's sister, Claire, who's adjusting to life after Justine, who seems to have been in an institution after suffering a mental breakdown, moves in with her and her family. She's also growing increasingly worried that this planet, Melancholia, will collide with her due to some research she's been doing. Her husband reassures her that it's just gonna pass us by and leave. This is when the film really finds its focus, because, again, the wedding is relevant in showing the state of mind that Justine finds herself in, uncaring and indifferent to the fact that the world is pretty much about to end. The characterization is strong, but that is mostly helped by the fact that Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg are both fantastic in their roles. Seriously fantastic. I think both Kirsten and Charlotte put in some of their best work, I really do believe that. Because of that, I do think the film does go to some interesting with its characters, particularly Kiefer Sutherland's character once he finally realizes that it's all over. The film is certainly not a happy one, that's for sure. Its outlook is pretty damn bleak, but, in spite of that, it's not really a movie that leaves you feeling down or depressed about the world when it's all over. Which is not an easy thing to achieve when the film deals with the literal end of the world due to another planet crashing into us. So that was, not necessarily impressive, but it was pretty interesting how they handled some pretty bleak themes without actually depressing the shit out of viewers. At least that's how I felt, maybe someone else saw it differently. Visually speaking, the film is very impressive, like just seeing Melancholia closing in on earth. It's pretty damn beautiful. In spite of the fact that the planet is gonna destroy everything, there's something beautiful about it all. So yea, all in all, I'd say I actually really enjoyed this movie in spite of all the flaws I felt it had with the wedding segment of the film. The second half more than makes up for that. It's not a movie that everyone will love, but I do think it's worth watching because of its characters, its storytelling and its style. It's gonna inspire debates between people who hate and love Lars Von Trier. And that's what art is really all about honestly.
½ September 10, 2016
I know there are problems with the movie, but I love it. It speaks to me and understands me. It's so somberly beautiful that it brings a tear to my eye.
½ August 31, 2016
An engaging story that is well acted, but the two halves of the movie feel too disconnected from each other, and feel unresolved.
½ August 30, 2016
Art house film that's not going to be for everyone. Much like Antichrist (2009) Melancholia is shot beautifully and has a fantastic musical score that follows the film. On the surface the film is about two sisters Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg). The film is split in two parts with Justine getting married in the beginning of the film and exploring her deep depression. While the second part is about Claire and her denial of what's going on and trying her hardest to make everything just work. The Earth is about to be hit by a planet named Melancholia and some people are in denial. Claire's husband John (Kiefer Sutherland) is telling everyone it won't happen, but Justine knows it will. It's hard to describe this one. You really have to see it to believe it. The movie has metaphors non stop everywhere. The overall meaning could be interpreted any number of ways, but this is mostly my opinion on it. Claire is like the Earth. She's "normal" and does everything that she thinks she should do including watching over her sister. Justine is represented by the impending doom of Melancholia. She is deeply depressed, different and just doesn't fit in. The crashing of the planet represents the depression someone feels and how it invades their own "normal" life suddenly and violently. The early wedding scenes show us different people in Justine's life and a few of them stand out A lot of her family members represent something as well such as her father Dexter (John Hurt) representing Greed because he only thinks of himself and can't even take the time to talk to Justine. Her mom Gaby (Charlotte Rampling) is bluntness she's super rude and acts out without thinking. All of the people are just very characterized it's quite interesting. Overall, it's still a bit too hard to follow along with and although it was a pretty one and well acted by Dunst I just didn't enjoy it overall!
½ August 3, 2016
The 3rd of Mr. Von Triers film I've watched, and the 3rd one I've disliked. I watched Antichrist, and it was horrible. I watched Dancer In The Dark, and it was depressing. I watched Melancholia, and it was boring. Very, VERY boring. This experiment in grandiose art-house self-indulgence opens with a wedding reception that lasts nearly an hour, and contains characters who are either too annoying to be likable or too dull to be interesting. All except Kirsten Dunst's Justine, who manages to be both. The film is over 2 hours of relentless misery, grinding tedium and protracted scenes of pure nothingness. For me, Von Trier's films all have the same central problem: The unwavering belief that they're saying a lot more than they really are. The movie's contention seems to be that depression makes people feel sad, which is hardly revelatory. After all the flat dialogue, static plotting, detestable characters and endless sulking, you'll be begging for the eponymous meteor to come along and wipe everyone out as quickly as possible.
½ May 28, 2016
Spectacular movie, sort of a blockbuster on the theme of depression.
½ May 9, 2016
A relentlessly dark and depressing film that never once lets up, or offers its viewers a chance of relief. This is not a pleasant viewing experience. In fact, it's downright miserable. By the halfway point, you're likely to find every single character utterly despicable, and by the end, you'll just be happy to watch them all die. This doesn't make it a bad film per say, it's impeccably well-made with some beautiful cinematography and great performances, but it will certainly turn off many viewers. Even for movie fans, this will start to feel like a chore to get through after a while. The many plotholes and scientific inconsistencies can also be extremely frustrating. To be fair however, this is a movie driven by emotions rather than logic. As it is, the film is a unique and original take on the "end of the world" genre and offers an interesting look at depression. Just don't expect to feel good about yourself after it's over.
½ April 19, 2016
OMG SOOO BAD!! not even kirsten dunsts boobs make it worth watching
½ April 5, 2016
Unlike anything else. Visually breathtaking. I walked away from it feeling as though it was a dream. A movie that stays with you long after it is over.
March 14, 2016
I like Von Triers - and for me, Melancholia isn't on a par with my favourites, Breaking the Waves or Dogville, but it's still a very thoughtful, moving film (and probably the only disaster movie I can relate to. Great idea to have Kiefer Sutherland NOT saving the world.) My highlights were the soundtrack, and a wonderful performance from the underrated Kirsten Dunst.
½ March 12, 2016
I enjoyed it in a melancholic way. Some fine acting from a strong cast and Dunst in particular. Film plays out in two parts and it works quite well.
March 6, 2016
I love end of the world movies but couldn't get through ten minutes of this melodramatic movie. Boring
February 20, 2016
"Melancholia" has a bit of sluggish pace and the dramatic sequences are obvious without explanation, but the film has remarkable visually artistic designs while showcasing Kirsten Dunst's acting performance where she shows impressive emotional versatility.
February 12, 2016
Von trier never let me down. If you want to think a little bit about your existance and if you want to have what the old authors called "spleen", then this movie is for you. It's a masterpiece.
½ February 12, 2016
I suggest skipping all of Justine and go straight to Claire... I spent the whole first half of the movie asking what the heck is going on. Not only did it not make any sense but it had nothing to do with what the movie is about. The last half of the movie was good, if the whole movie had been like that it would've gotten another star.
½ February 11, 2016
Pitting the acting of Kirsten Dunst together with the direction of Lars Von Trier, Melancholia sounded like a trippy experience.

Lars Von Trier is a man very a very profound sense of storytelling. His works rarely have the most interesting stories but succeed more so on the shoulders of the themes they ride. In the case of Melancholia, the film follows a somewhat familiar narrative about a character entering a married life while the world around her turns is little more than an endless spiral of emptiness with no excitement sparked from a wedding. The story is used as a front for Lars Von Trier to capture a psychedelic vision of nihilistic broken dreams.
The entire intro scene to Melancholia plays out like a collection of classical paintings that begin to move slowly very slowly against the backdrop of an orchestral piece, immediately giving viewers a sense of the stylish manner of filmmaking they are in for. But at the same time it serves as a warning for essentially what the entire film chronicles. There is constantly a feeling that Melancholia is focused on style over substance. It neglects the need for much of a story because it relies more on the director's self-indulgent obsession with dark themes without weaving them together into a story. Though there is certainly a powerful reach into the world of melancholy, the actual narrative execution is a bit too subtle for its own good. The imagery and physical appearances of the actors is what the film relies on to convey meaning to audiences rather than much of a developing narrative. And viewers are left to tolerate all this at a pace which is extremely slow, a burden for even many of the most coherent films available. So when it anchors down the movement of an absurdist piece like Melancholia, the damage is all too great. Melancholia's lack of story prevents it from going anywhere, and though that may reflect the reality of life in the eyes of Lars Von Trier's depressive episode that inspired him to create the film, it fails to offer the most inspiring piece of cinema.
However, there is no denying the physical beauty in Melancholia. It may not offer enough to live up to the standards of a feature film, but Lars Von Trier's piece is almost a 136 minute piece of performance art with a lot of beautiful imagery. Captured on a small budget, Melancholia uses a limited collection of locations to fuel the movie with wonderful scenery. It is all captured by beautiful cinematography which turns it into works of classical art at many times, while moderating a more intense and slightly shaky technique to emit a feeling of claustrophobia during the more intense moments. This manages to capture some shots of surreal beauty and intense realism, contrasting a feeling of grace with one of darkness and symbolizing the emotional instability that is melancholy. And thanks to the artistic style of the feature, Melancholia is also a strongly atmospheric piece. There is constantly a feeling of nihilism that plagues the narrative, not for its melancholic themes but due to the fact that the impending apocalypse is a clear plot dynamic. This cleverly reflects the mindset of its characters who view existence as a pointless wait for death while others around them make their existence a greater burden with personal problems. Ultimately, Melancholia is indeed a film which captures the emotional feeling dictated by its title. It's just that this isn't always the most entertaining narrative, particularly for those who are not already embalmed in the surrealistic and explicit manner of filmmaking Lars Von Trier is known for. I'm a person who has mixed feelings about it, and though I admired the stylish nature of Melancholia, I consider the lack of structure in the story to stand in the way of it achieving true greatness.
However, there is greatness offered in Melancholia beyond simply the style of the film. This can be credited to the talents of the cast, particularly Kirsten Dunst.
Kirsten Dunst delivers one of the finest performances of her entire career. Kirsten Dunst constantly has a blank expression on her face. Not one of boredom, one of lifelessness. One of death, one of the purest melancholy that the entire film embodies. The human touch of Melancholia rests very heavily on how Kirsten Dunst is able to convey the titular emotional state to viewers, and she manages to balance a sense of understanding to connect to viewers while also managing isolate herself away from them so they understand what true melancholy is. Kirsten Dunst appears to have a perfect understanding of her character's internal suffering and conveys it without resorting to techniques of melodrama or sentimentality, rather capturing it with the subtlety of someone hiding themselves away from the world. Her performance is a very physical one, and though she doesn't have to branch out in her display of emotions she still captures the raw suffering of the part through how Lars Von Trier is able to emphasize everything about her effort so that we can see the same beauty in her that he has clearly discovered. Kirsten Dunst delivers a mature performance like none she has ever given before in Melancholia, and it adds an entirely new level of credibility to her talents as an actress.
Charlotte Gainsbourg follows with a strong effort of her own. Though her frequency in collaborating with Lars Von Trier makes her effort less of a breakthrough than Kirsten Dunst's, it also establishes that she perfectly understands the universe she is working within. Capturing a different style of melancholy to her counterpart, Charlotte Gainsbourg is slightly more explicit in conveying her emotions. This causes a strong contrast between the two and also allows for them to share an intense chemistry as two people stuck in a condemned world as their psychology begins to overthrow them. Charlotte Gainsbourg is a perfect fit for Melancholia.

Melancholia features excellent work by Kirsten Dunst and a passionate style for grim visuals by Lars Von Trier, but the actual narrative of the film is too slow, subtle and self-indulgent for its own good.
½ February 9, 2016
It's the end of the world as they know it - and they don't feel fine. It's actually a metaphor for depression, which it expresses quite well.
February 7, 2016
I can see why some people love this, and others just find it baffling. Put me in the group who loves it.
February 7, 2016
Melancholia is like a cynic's dream come true.
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