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November 20, 2011

Justine: Life is only on Earth. And not for long. 

After a few misfires involving some harsh language in the film circuit, director Lars von Trier has redeemed his credibility with his latest film, Melancholia. Depressing, beautiful, and touching are few of the words used to describe the beauty of this film. Listen, I’m not one to call a film PERFECT, but when it is this fantastic, I can’t help myself. I seem to have been giving a lot of perfect scores to films this year, and they all deserve it. This film also showcases the incredible acting talents of Kirsten Dunst. 2011 is a great year for film, and a great year for Lars von Trier. Melancholia is a trip worth taking.

Playing as sort of an opposite of The Tree Of Life, Melancholia focuses solely on the end of life, and a family who struggles through it. While the first hour showcases a wedding with our main character Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and the underused Michael (Alexander Skarsgård), things get quite ambiguous after. When news comes around that the planet Melancholia is nearing towards Earth, which supposedly is meant to end up destroying it, Justine remains calm and collected, while Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), an uptight mother, starts to lose it, and not even her husband John (Kiefer Sutherland) can condense the situation.

Given that this was the first film I’ve seen from Lars von Trier, I was going to be impressed. The main reason I’ve avoided watching films by Trier, is that I’ve heard that they all have one key role in making his films unique: depression. Nobody enjoys becoming too depressed by a film, and Melancholia has the perfect combo of uplifting and sad moments. 

I have never thought of Kirsten Dunst as a “mainstream” actress pretty much due to her commitment to the Spiderman films, and the Bring it On series. Melancholia is living proof that Dunst has what it takes to show her real acting chops. In fact, her performance was so memorable it won her the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival, which she truly deserved. Charlotte Gainsbourg was also quite magnificent, and should have won Best Supporting Actress at Cannes. 

Where have you been Kiefer Sutherland?! The last time we saw you in a [well-known] piece of cinema was in the piece of $#*% Mirrors. We all know how that turned out for your career. Alas, redemption has come and saved Sutherland, and that redemption has a name: Melancholia. Sutherland’s portrayal of John is not only Academy Award worthy, it is highly memorable, and his character keeps you on your toes for a [non-spoiler] 30 minutes of the film. Other good supporters are John Hurt, Charlotte Rampling, and Stellan Skarsgàrd in an enlightening, evil-ridden performance as Justine’s boss. 

Visually, this is a stunning film. The first eight minutes consist of slow-moving shots of everything WRONG with the world; children with weapons, death etc. all in grand fashion. Not only does the last five minutes have some of the most stunning moments I’ve ever seen in film, it includes one of the best endings I’ve seen all year. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to my local theater to view Melancholia once more, because watching it On Demand just isn’t good enough.

Melancholia: 5 out of 5

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 21, 2011 3:38 pm

    It moves on a little too long for me and the first hour really dragged on but Dunst’s performance was amazing and the last hour had me gripped the whole time. Good review.

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