Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Movie Review: Melancholia

mel·an·cho·li·a  (mln-kl-)
A mental disorder characterized by severe depression, guilt, hopelessness, and withdrawal.

This was a fascinating film, it certainly won't have you feeling very uplifted when you leave the theater. It was a very thought provoking film though, I'm not entirely sure this film can be categorized as a Sci-fi/ Drama. The film is set with two distinct chapters the first titled Justine which focuses on Kirsten Dunsts' characters wedding reception at her sister's mansion. Her sister Claire and her husband have spared no expense for Justine and her new husband. It is blindingly clear that Claire and John (Keifer Sutherland) are extremely wealthy, it's not clear if Justine and Michael are. We first see Justine and Michael in the stretched limousine struggling to navigate the thrawned trail leading to John and Claire's estate, already things are not going well. They finally arrive two hours late and the guests are becoming restless as is the caterers, it's here we learn that Claire has coordinated the entire evenings affairs and is frustrated by their tardiness...her plans are now out of sync. To make matters worse Justine seems to avoid joining the celebration by going to the stables to see her horse, it's here Justine notices the star of Antares, and we learn John is an avid astronomer. According to John the star seems to be brighter than usual....but by the end of the first act Antares is no longer visible.
The evening by all standards is a collosal failure, the evening would best be described as the polar opposite of a Disney princess film.

The second act, Claire, begins a few weeks after the failed wedding with Justine in a severe state of depression, we hear how debilitating depression and Kisten Dunst does an impressive job of displaying a trully believable person in the throes of depression.
While Claire struggles to care for her ill sister the effects can be seen taking their toll on her and her family. Also the second half of the film introduces the astrological phenomenon of Melancholia, a giant earth-like planet that will, according to scientists, safely pass by earth in a few days. Claires husband John is elated and wants to share his excitement with his son Leo. Claire begins to show signs of concern, she has read articles online regarding Melancholia and the "Dance of Death". Claire's anxiety builds as her concern over the collision grows stronger and stronger. Her Husband tries futilely to calm her till The night Melancholia passes by. Interestingly as Claire's calm controlled persona unravels with the approach of Melancholia Justine seems to regain composure and displays an unnerving serenity with the threat of Melancholia growing ever larger.
As mentioned prior depression is a debilitating force many people struggle with, the director, Lars von Trier actually was suffering from depression while writing this film. I'm sure we've all seen the commercials for the anti depressant pill Cymbalta or Zoloft they tell you that Depression not only affects the person but everyone around them and that brings me back to my original statement about this films categorization as Sci Fi/ Drama.  After seeing the film and digesting everything I saw, I believe the planet Melancholia is the directors avenue of visually representing the size, scope and magnitude of Justine's illness and the films conclusion is the outcome it had on John and Claire's family.
Regardless of what I think, the film is worth seeing, but be warned the title says it all!


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