Enjoy it while it lasts.

Iconoclastic Danish director Lars von Trier follows up his controversial Antichrist with this sci-fi disaster drama, starring Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Kiefer Sutherland.... More

A disaster film, of sorts, Melancholia tells the story of two sisters coming to terms with the imminent death of the planet as a large foreign body takes up a collision course. Justine (Dunst) becomes melancholic and calm when Earth is threatened, meanwhile Claire (Gainsbourg) fears for her life.

Von Trier considers his previous films to have happy endings, and promises ominously that this will be the first with an unhappy one. Hide

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Flicks Review

The opening sequences of Melancholia show that Lars Von Trier has picked up right where Antichrist left off – thankfully just in a visual rather than literal sense as I don’t think the world’s exactly itching for a sequel. Super slow motion surrealism makes up the opening several minutes with another gorgeous assemblage of images that will no doubt form the unlikely basis for television commercial art direction, as its predecessor did. After this beautiful and foreboding foreshadowing, Melancholia moves on to the classy-as-all-hell wedding of Kirsten Dunst and Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood) and soon it becomes clear there may be a little more Antichrist lurking within than had first appeared.... More

Melancholia is based on Von Trier’s personal experiences but, rather than the tumultuous aspects of grief and depression, this is more about how those that suffer from it are able to self-destruct amid an eerie aura of calm. That eeriness and calm comes to the fore in Melancholia’s second part (the wedding being the first), opening at the film’s deepest point of depression and introducing apocalyptic themes as a rogue planet, previously hidden behind the sun, threatens to collide with Earth.

Pitched as a beautiful movie about the end of the world, Melancholia succeeds. Dunst, in particular, excels in a performance that saw her collect Best Actress at Cannes, while the less that’s said of the Von Trier witch-hunt at that festival the better.Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

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Lars von Trier's contradictory manner is strangely compelling; he has made some fine films over his long career. Not being what you would call a "commercial" film maker, the masses have unfortunately missed some of his crowning highlights. Though, with the digital age and the growing accessibility of the international film markets his works are now becoming available. On the flip side, his experimental techniques & subversive subject matters have turned many people off. Like with most... More with un-formulaic film makers, he often struggles to make his material relevant to general masses. His perverse nature is an obstacle for most. Having opened mainstream cinema's door to explicit sexuality with 1998's "The Idiots", it's not always easy to prepare yourself to watch one of his films. You just don't know what you're going to get. The shock and awe of his films are often accompanied by controversial press junkets, where his internal monologue is seemingly absent. Most recently, while promoting today's film, he claimed to be a "Nazi "and that he "sympathises with Hitler". Although he was using this untactful comparison to make a valid point, it shows the extreme ways in which his brain works.

His latest feature 'Melancholia' falls somewhere in-between the two extremes one can expect from Von Trier. Set in two parts, the film tells an apocalyptic tale told through the lives of two sisters. We learn almost immediately that the world will end at the end of the film. Once that cheerful news is out the way, we begin. Part one brings us to the wedding of Justine (Kristen Dunst). Justine is well into the tailspin of depression as she attempts to put on a mask of sanity for her Guests. The expensive reception paid for by her wealthy brother in law, John (Keifer Sutherland), is the backdrop for star filled guest list: Stellan Skarsgard (Good Will Hunting) , John Hurt (The Elephant Man) and Udo Keir (Dancer in the Dark), who all play into Justine's decline & a reception that is destined for failure. Part Two brings us forward in time and is positioned from the view of Justine's Sister, Claire. Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), along with John offer to take care of Justine who by now is catatonic with depression. Simultaneously, we begin to experience the end of the earth, to be handed out by awesome power of 'Melancholia': a rouge planet.

Whilst Melancholia is sublime in its imagery, its depression riddled plot and tiresome dialogue overpowers what otherwise could have been a truly compelling film. I have spoken with numerous people about it over the past months, and they were all somewhat polarised. There is certainly a film maker's intellect at work here, which accounts for the vast difference in satisfaction between the general public and the film critics. The procession of critical comparison to Terrance Mallick's 'Tree of Life' was inevitable; to me however, Tree of Life was far more compelling due to its uncompromising experimental delivery. Melancholia, clearly attempting to challenge the formula, falls short opting to dumb down the innovation and steer the audience safely to its conclusion.Hide

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The Press Reviews

77% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • This contemplation of the planet’s demise predictably provides not an ounce of comfort or redemption, nor does it offer characters or ideas with which to meaningfully engage, just ample opportunity to wallow in some rapturous images, glorious music and a foul mood. Full Review

  • Melancholia is incredibly eerie, and is lent an exciting frisson by the authenticity of an actress and filmmaker with first-hand experiences of psychological trauma. Full Review

  • Beginning and ending with a bang, but with too much whimpering in between, Melancholia is low-key Lars. Full Review

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