Give it a try if… You have survived at least one of von Trier’s previous movies.
Steer clear if… You have just run out of sleeping pills.
You know what? Let’s skip the infamous Cannes controversy altogether (read: Scandal-Greedy Press beats Hyperbolical Provocateur) and enjoy this self-defined “psychological disaster movie” for what it is: another tough-but-great work of art by the Danish director.
Faraway, So Close
Beautiful newlywed Justine (Kirsten Dunst, best actress in Cannes) succumbs to a mysterious depression, while her sister Claire (a wonderful Charlotte Gainsbourg) desperately tries to hold the wedding party together. We gradually discover that the planet Melancholia, as suggested by the psychedelic prologue, is slowly approaching ours. Later the two sisters reunite, together with Claire’s husband and son, and wait for the planet to pass by… or maybe not.
Just Another 2012 Flick?
This movie has grown and evolved inside me for days. While watching it I felt utterly uncomfortable, even more than I usually do with von Trier, and anguishly focused on the apocalyptic side of the story (you see, a part of me shares Justine’s view that “Life on Earth is evil” and therefore worthy of extinction). After reading the director’s statement that “This is not really a movie about the end of the world,” though, I have come to see it from a different angle.
When Two Are One
The menacing planet is a projection of the dark side of both women, their Jungian shadow. Its newfound astronomical proportions magnify their divergent approaches towards it, and trick us into taking sides. Interestingly, though, when their fate finally comes it finds them hand in hand, suggesting they may represent two sides of every human being – starting from von Trier himself, who admits being prone to depression. This insight has brought me to count “Melancholia” among those few “4D movies” which open up a whole new dimension, to be pondered and explored with the patience and openness it deserves. You got me, Lars.
UPS score (Utmost Perfection Scale): 9/10 + wow!