500 Days Of Film Reviews Melancholia And Finds A Haunting Film About The End Of The World
Justine (Kirsten Dunst) has just married Michael (Alexander Skarsgard) and they are on their way to a grand wedding reception organised by her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg).
However, what should be a happy, joyous affair soon becomes fraught with tension and ill feeling.
The animosity between her estranged, dysfunctional parents (played brilliantly by John Hurt and Charlotte Rampling) causes Justine to fall into a state of depression (or melancholia) - causing her to act out in strange and unsettling ways.
Meanwhile, as both sisters struggle with depression, anxiety and the quest for happiness, a rogue planet (itself called Melancholia) is about to collide into Earth and destroy all life as we know it.
Is It Any Good?
At the start of my 500 Days Of Film Challenge, I promised one thing - I would try my
best not to include any spoilers about the films I watch.
You may now be thinking that I have just broken that promise and totally ruined the ending of this film.
However, Melancholia actually begins with what my favourite film critic (evs), Mark Kermode, calls “the mother of all plot spoilers”.
Director, Lars von Trier, wants you to view the events of his movie with the ending very much in mind. We know what is going to happen and this knowledge gives every scene added resonance.
And so, the film starts with the end.
It also features some stunning, if haunting, shots of Justine and Claire with her son, Leo. This informs us that, although Melancholia is about something as huge as the end of the world, this will not be its focus.
Because, instead of using a telescope to view the apocalyptic events, Lars von Trier selects a microscope by which to examine the lives of Justine and Claire. By doing this, he forces us to think about the impact of all encompassing depression.
Melancholia’s ending is, of course, bleak. There is not much joy or light relief to be found anywhere. There is no Bruce Willis to save the day. There is no last minute reprieve.
There is only a magnificent end and the lingering question of how we would face it.
Both Dunst and Gainsbourg are just superb in this film. In fact, all of the performances are strong.
The shots of the planet Melancholia as it approaches the earth are beautiful - if unsettling.
I am going to be skeptical of all scientists for some while...
In my opinion, this is not a film to watch if you are already feeling low. Having watched it whilst feeling reasonably bright and optimistic, I felt emotionally wrung out by the end. I have a feeling that Melancholia will haunt me for some while to come.