Melancholia (2011)

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So, is that Galactus or the planet Cybertron??

Melancholia (2011)
Directed By: Lars von Trier (Antichrist)

The Prologue
I really feel bad for  Lars von Trier. Here you have a massively creative director that has a solid vision of what his films should look like, and he does a grand job of making them stand out. But when the man tries to joke around people get all uptight..I can relate. But here he is with his follow up to the controversial Antichrist, with Melancholia. A slow moving, artsy film that has the man’s fingerprints all over it. It’s also a rather unique take on your typical doom and gloom movies. But is the art overshadowing the quality of Lars recent film? Well, that really depends on how you look at it I suppose.

The Movie
Kirsten Dunst plays Justine and Charlotte Gainsbourg plays Claire, two very different sisters, with different personalities and outlooks on life. The film is broken down into two different parts, with part one dealing with Justine and part two dealing with Claire. We watch as both seem to have failing relationships/marriages, but that’s not even the worst of their troubles. You see, while all this is going down on Earth, up in space a new planet that scientist call, “Melancholia” is set to pass Earth in five days. But, will it pass Earth or will is collide right into it, swallowing it up?

From the opening shot of this film I could already tell it was a film by Lars von Trier. I think I would have been able to have noticed who it was had I not knew that info before hand. There’s a weird sadness and gloomy vibe that showers Lars’ films, and it’s here in ten fold with Melancholia. A title that I believe could have never been more fitting than it is here, because that’s what it is. The ton of the film is just that, the planet in the film is named that, and I’m pretty sure that word would best describe just about every character the film shows us. So, it’s not the film to make you happy while watching it, but it’s not a film to turn a cheek to either. I’d say It’s pretty clever overall.

The first part of the film, where we mainly deal with Dunst’s character, Justine, isn’t a section of the film that does not much to do with the apparent doom that the new planet could bring. As a matter of fact, it’s hardly mentioned. We spend this part of the film just seeing how screwed up the character and her family really are, as we join them during perhaps the worst wedding. And while it works in a way to toss us a curve when the crap hits the fan later on, I do have to wonder if perhaps it couldn’t have been a little shorter in length than it actually is. There’s a few things in this film I think would have been better cut shorter, as it does cause it to drag a bit (in the same way Antichrist dragged actually). But the saving grace for that is the fact that the acting is superb. I especially enjoyed Kiefer Sutherland’s role as Claire’s husband, John.

It is however in the second section of the film, Claire’s section, where things tend to pickup a bit. The planet becomes the main focus overall, and things get a little creepy. While I would say that for the most part things take a realistic tone when that nasty new planet gets close, I’d have to believe in real life it would have been more chaotic. Now, I realize they lived a little away from populated parts of town and all, and I also realize that the family we are dealing with isn’t the closes family ever. But wouldn’t people be making more of an effort to contact each other and all that stuff if they thought for a second that the world might be ending? The movie leaves me with a few questions of that nature, but overall and for the most part it left me satisfied and intrigued with what I just saw. So while I might not go as far as to call it the best film of the year like many publications, I will say it’s pretty damn good, very depressing, but good.

The Conclusion
It’s a slow mover and all that, but I think if you liked Antichrist you’ll like this one just as well. But unlike that film, it lacks any real blood or anything like that. It does however pack some cool shots and very awesome cinematography. Add that in with the great acting and I’d say the positives are greater than any negatives. I’d have liked it to have been a little shorter, but I’ve give it my overall seal of approval.

The Rating (7/10)        

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Chuck Conry

Chuck Conry has been doing this for ten years! He does reviews, podcasts, and makes indie movies. The jury may still be out on if he does any of those things well.