MelancholiaFeature Film |
A grandly ambitious and striking film.
With Melancholia, enfant terrible director Lars von Trier has crafted an intimate, poetic character drama that may be his most polished and accessible work to date. In the first half of the film, long-simmering family tensions send newlywed Justine (Kirsten Dunst) into a depressive downward spiral that obliterates any chance at future happiness. Dunst's staggering transformation from blushing bride to nearly catatonic recluse, despite the intervention of her older sister, Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), is almost impossible to watch; her hollow stare and lifeless attitude seem to directly rebuke the lavish wealth and painterly beauty that surrounds her. In the second half, Claire's attempts to rehabilitate her mute sister are complicated by her anxiety about the discovery of the planet Melancholia, which, the gorgeously epic opening sequence has already boldly shown, is on a collision course with Earth. The movie, which blends von Trier's trademark naturalism with unexpected moments of stylized beauty, finds comfort in the smallest of spaces. Naming the planet that will destroy the world after the mental illness that has destroyed Justine's life is just one of several sly ways von Trier injects humor into a story that peels back life's absurdities to reveal the bleak truth that, in the end, all that matters is how openly we welcome death.