This is probably the first of Lars Von Trier’s movies I’ve seen. I wanted to risk a look at Dogville but never really mustered up the interest. I surely know that his movies are a little special and you immediately get this vibe in Melancholia as well.
After an almost mesmerizing opening, with some really captivating shots, the actual story starts with a wedding. We follow Justine (Kirsten Dunst) through the evening. Along with all of the tirades and shenanigans that can happen when there is a big family meeting. It doesn’t take long and we recognize that Justine isn’t exactly the most happy person on the planet. Lets just say that Justine and me wouldn’t get along. There these moments when she’s truly adorable and one minute later it seems as if she gave up on everything. I constantly asked myself what the hell is wrong with her? We also learn that the opening scenes seem to be from a dream Justine had. But that doesn’t explain her character’s decisions and actions.However, I feel sorry for the groom. Especially during that one scene when she leaves him alone in a room to go for a walk and make love to a stranger outside. Sure enough the groom is leaving her a few scenes later. My only thought… “Good for him!”. I’m kind of like Udo Kier’s character in this movie. Constantly with a question mark hovering over my head.
Then we follow Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), the sister of Justine. Now they know a Planet called Melancholia is marching into our solarsystem. Obviously the movie doesn’t care about physics. Well, I admit I’m no expert, but wouldn’t the gravity/mass of Melancholia mix up some of the sensitive things that keep our solarsystem the way it is? Resulting in certain cataclysmic effects regarding Earth way before Melancholia actually hits or comes close? Yeah yeah, I guess Melancholia is more a metaphor instead of a real planet I guess. But anyway. In the meanwhile Justine fell into a strong depression and Claire is trying to help and stay close to her. Finally a woman that makes sense in this movie. In the meantime Melancholia comes closer to Earth. Claire doubts that Earth will survive the passing of Melancholia. While her husband John (Kiefer Suchterland) is trying to assure her that everything will be fine, she still finds no reason to believe him. Soon enough both find out that nothing good is about to happen.
Whether you like Justine or you don’t but Kirsten Dunst delivers a good performance. Even if I ask myself why that character is actually in the movie. The character I can more relate to is Claire. And that’s actually all I can say about the characters. Overall very good performances from everyone.
When it comes to the technical execution I really have some issues. Instead of constructing well composed shots it’s shaky cam most of the time. The movie shows in the beginning that it’s very well able to create some nice shots. So I’m not sure what the movie wants to tell us here. Maybe the camera work is so restless because it wants to build a connection to emotions ofthe characters. Aside of that I can add that the VFX work is ok but not overwhelming. But VFX are not what drives the movie… so it’s fine the way it is.
The final verdict is that the movie left me with a question mark. I’m not able to figure out the motive of the movie. Only the scenario is interesting to watch. But that scenario could have worked without the wedding part. So what is it trying to tell us? Maybe I’ll figure it out later… but right now I’m unable to.