A Lars Von Trier film.
Even though I actually never saw any of his previous work, I’ve seen scenes from Dancer in the Dark, Dogville, I’ve seen images of Breaking the Waves, I recognize Lars Von Trier work enough to know that some people may hate it and some people may as well love it.
With Melancholia, I don’t think I’m being a spoiler here, he takes us to the end of the world. As the film begins he doesn’t waste any time telling us that and we are followed by this powerful, intense and at the same time painful music. Then we are introduced to Justine and Claire.
Its Justine’s wedding, she tries to smile and smile and smile but she can’t feel happy. You get to know her, her family, her sister Claire, and her husband. Gradually Justine loses her strength to smile and refuges in the rooms around the house or outside in the yard. The yellowish color creates an intense atmosphere around this wedding, between restless and quieter camera moves. Justine is played by Kirsten Dunst beautifully. She stumbles around this wedding with happy smiles, with depressive looks and melancholic eyes she can’t control, then she’s back to the party but this time her smile is sad. Not only she ‘carries’ these ups and downs she also needs to carry the wedding dress (which was not easy I suppose!). Anyway, her marriage ends in failure.
We are transported to Claire’s life and her relation with her sister. She’s tireless when it comes to Justine, even if she treats her wrong and hurts her. But as the planet Melancholia approaches the earth, Claire starts losing her confidence even if her husband assures her it is only passing by. But it isn’t. As we are headed to the absolute and ultimate chaos the film grows slower and quieter, until we are only left with this two sisters and Claire’s son. The image becomes as raw as Claire’s character, played magnificently by Charlotte Gainsbourg. And this is how Lars Von Trier makes his films, that’s why he’s who he is, that’s why he’s an unprecedented author that stands out from any other filmmaker. These two sisters face the end of the world alone. Justine is depressed and Claire is freaking out. There are no dialogues about depression, there are no pretentious speeches about what they are facing either. There are no ‘Oh God, here it is the world ending and you are wasting your time being depressed’.
On a personal note, I clearly pay extra attention to the actors work because whether we want it or not they are the core of the story. I love how they become someone else, being that exposed. Again, I think Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg are brave.
The film has its tone, ends beautifully and majestically and like I said in the beginning, some people may found the story or parts of the story, like the marriage, superfluous and some will identify with it. But he tells us something. And I accept Melancholia.