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Review: Melancholia (2011)

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Unfortunately, I have never seen a Lars Von Trier film. From what I’ve heard he has been one of the more, let’s say interesting, directors this decade. So with a beautiful trailer for Melancholia, I was determined to make it my first.

Starting off with a series of ridiculously slow motion shots that show our planet being destroyed by a rouge planet known as Melancholia, the prelude also shows the characters involved and some of their final actions. Part One, “Justine” begins after the destruction. The formerly mentioned Justine has just gotten married to a polite and quiet Michael (Alexander Skarsgard). They seem happy enough, but as the night continues, Justine gets more and more unhappy. Her sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and brother-in-law (Kiefer Sutherland) who are hosting her grand reception party grow continually dissatisfied with her, and the proceeding events. Tensions grow, and the oncoming potential of demise only makes everyone more on edge. Part 2 “Claire”, contains Justine coming back to live with her sister in a deep depression. And why not? The planet is going to be destroyed, right?

There is no doubt that this is not a “Hollywood” movie by any stretch of the imagination. If you were expecting The Day After Tomorrow, you’ll be very disappointed. Melancholia, for most of the second half, is a four person act. In fact we have no clue what is going on in the world, outside of the mansion Claire and John call home. John (Sutherland) works as our news reports, being a leading astronomer and gives us all the information we need. From here, Von Tier doesn’t make it a disaster movie, but a study on depression and how people react to extreme consequences. The opening sequence is one of my favorites and is absolutely jaw dropping. Think of it as The Tree of Life with more of a plot. However, once the real story began it was hard not to get bored. There are moments when you just want the planet to crash already, but make no mistake, it is a wonderfully constructed film. Dunst and Gainsourg carry the film, and give some amazing performances. Really didn’t see this coming when I first saw her Spider-man.

I would really like to give this one a higher grade. The film is shot beautifully, and is well acted. But it is a chore to watch at times. Know what you’re going into before hand.

My Rating: B