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Film Review: Melancholia

Dec 15, 2011 03:27AM, Published by Wendy Sipple, Categories: In Print




Justine (played by Kirsten Dunst) celebrates her marriage at the ritzy home of her sister and her astronomer husband. The movie follows Justine’s journey into depression through her wedding night and the following weeks that coincide with the destruction of the Earth as it collides with another planet named Melancholia.

Just as the title suggests, this is a terribly depressing movie, following depressing people who are in a horribly depressing set of circumstances. So if you do not like depressing movies this film is not for you. While the premise of the story has a huge science fiction component to it, the movie lives more inside the slow moving drama of depression instead of the more exciting and traumatic event of Earth colliding with another planet.

The opening five minutes of the movie is visually captivating as it foreshadows the end of the movie with slow motion artful depictions of the main characters last moments alive on Earth. These horrible but mesmerizing images are played to classical music and sets up a tone that is not seen again in the film until the closing shot. As the movie finishes its introduction the audience is instead treated to a very slow moving character study of a depressed girl’s wedding day. The majority of the film is shot with handheld cameras to great effect in its attempt to capture a documentary style of intimacy with its characters.

Lars Von Trier at the very least makes interesting movies even though they don’t pack the entertainment punch movie goers are used to. He definitely has a style, and he certainly is able to get powerful performances from his actors. Melancholia is no different as Kirsten Dunst gives the best performance of her career in this movie.

The fact remains that his movie are not enjoyable to watch, even though they have an artful edge to them. There is a joy that is absent from the movie. So while incredible things happen within the context of the movie, nothing comes across as incredible intentionally. The characters, while interesting, don’t have normal character arcs so the flow of the story is not what movie goers are used to. In essence Melancholia is an art house film in its purist form and will have a very specific audience.

While Melancholia is not my style of movie, I can appreciate what the filmmakers intentions were. I can confidently say that he achieved his goals. It’s a well thought out movie, perhaps not as thought provoking as it should or could be, and while interesting it doesn’t elicit a large emotional punch either. Fans of depressing art house movies will have a lot to like in Melancholia, the average moviegoer will wish they had stayed clear of this movie.

Films like Melancholia – Antichrist,  Tree of Life and The Thin Red Line


Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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