A sublimely beautiful film about the end of the world, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia is nothing if not perverse. A strange mix of apocalyptic sci-fi and darkly comic social drama, the film is glacially slow in tempo but filled with stunning, gorgeously shot images. It will annoy as many viewers as it charms.
Von Trier’s heroine is equally exasperating. Kirsten Dunst’s depressive bride, Justine, throws a wedding-day wobbly to end them all, ruining the lavish reception that has been arranged by her sensible sister, Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), in the splendid chateaux owned by her husband John (Kiefer Sutherland). Justine and Claire’s estranged parents, John Hurt’s doting, dotty father and Charlotte Rampling’s bitchy, brittle mother, are among the bystanders. Meanwhile, a rogue planet called Melancholia is drawing ever nearer, apparently on a collision course with Earth. Arch rationalist John is convinced Melancholia will miss. Justine, staying on at the chateaux after the wedding fiasco, is not so sure…
Following the film’s premiere, Von Trier got himself expelled from the Cannes Film Festival for making some willfully provocative off-the-cuff remarks about Hitler, but that didn’t stop his leading lady from winning the festival’s Best Actress award. The prize was well deserved. Dunst is dazzling: complex, troubled, dark, and the heart of a baffling but brilliant film.
Released on DVD & Blu-ray on Monday 23rd January by Artificial Eye.