Melancholia (2011)

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Melancholia is a movie I watched in one of my film classes. And lets just say that I did not enjoy it. I was surprised to find that Melancholia has a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes (not that Rotten Tomatoes actually means anything). But as you can infer from the title of the film, the whole movie is a metaphor for depression.

The movie is split into two parts – one for each sister, Justine who is played by Kirsten Dunst, and Claire who is played by Charlotte Gainsbourg. The movie starts off in a montage of slow-mo shots, there is no dialogue, just loud booming music and this montage goes on for almost 10 minutes but it really feels like 20. This montage just makes you wonder what the hell is going on but as you continue watching the movie it all starts to make sense and it gives away the ending of the film. The film then starts on Justine’s wedding day, where at first she seems like the happiest of women, but once she and her husband arrive at her reception, she tries to escape the party as often as she can.

It is in this first part that we see Justine’s depression, though she smiles at her reception, there is a great deal of family tension and her boss trying to coax her into working during her wedding day. Everyone tells her what to do – to be happy, to go back to the party, to come up with a tagline for her work, but she simply cannot do so. Though this first part establishes Justine’s depression and her relationship with other characters – it goes on for simply too long and can be cut down immensely. Justine does a number of weird things when she’s away from her party – like take a long bath – and though she does suffer from depression, the way that she acts makes it hard for the audience to understand or relate to her.

The second part, revolves around Claire, Claire is Justine’s older sister and she ends up taking care of her after her wedding. Justine’s attitude continues to make her unlikable. And we get to see that even though Claire is frustrated with her sister, she does what she can to look after her. Here we find out that there is a planet, called Melancholia, headed towards Earth and will bring about the end of the world. Claire worries about what this means and tries to do what she can to protect her family – which is basically nothing. And because of the montage that played at the beginning of the movie, you feel no real stakes because you already know what’s going to happen and are just waiting to see it fulfilled.

While I do appreciate the director, Lars von Trier, realistic depiction of depression, overall the film is just too weird for me. I just found most of the characters to be unlikable. However, the cinematography was beautiful.

I give this a D.

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