I watched this film a week ago having received it on blu-ray as a Christmas gift. I had heard both good and bad things about it and the trailer I had seen months ago intrigued me. I’m a fan of Von Trier, Dunst and Sutherland. None of this prepared me for the film I watched.
This movie is a masterpiece of filmmaking. I absolutely loved and hated it in equal measure. Part 1 is a study of the depressive condition melancholia, and follows Dunst’s character Justine during her wedding day. A large part of me hated this section. Having flirted with the edges of depression myself, I could relate all too clearly with her many unreasonable and irrational reactions to the world around her. I understood her more than I wanted to and it was difficult to watch. Whilst that made me want to hate her, it also testifies to the brilliance of the movie-making at work here. Depression is a difficult thing to understand and Dunst does a stellar job with the material, given a lot of the scenes are silent. Von Trier makes every scene look beautiful and yet feel painfully lonely.
Part 2 looks at the fictional planet Melancholia, and its’ effect on Dunst and her family (in particular her sister who has become Dunst’s carer now that her depressive condition has reached debilitating extremes). The planet is due to pass by Earth causing huge amounts of excitement for Sutherland (Dunst’s brother-in-law) who is a keen astrologer. Her sister, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg, has an irrational fear that the planet will hit Earth and destroy it on its journey. This conflict works to both bring the family together and break them apart.
Part study of the human condition and part apocalyptic disaster story, this movie is visually stunning and breathtakingly frightening. The last ten seconds in particular are so scary that I’m actually grateful that I didn’t see it at the cinema. It is by far the best movie I have seen in the past year and I will recommend it to every person I know.