Apr 30, 2012

Melancholia Movie Review

I recently decided to upgrade my Amazon account to Amazon Prime so I can take advantage of the many additional benefits of being a Prime member, including the ability to stream movies and shows that I can't find on my Netflix account (many of which are at no extra costs to Prime members).

One of the recently added movies available for streaming on Amazon is Melancholia starring Kirsten Dunst. Since I've heard so much about the movie, I thought I ought to check it out. Besides that, Alexander SkarsgÄrd is also in it. Remember him from True Blood? He was voted Best Horror Actor three years in a row at the Scream Awards!

I am not really sure how to feel about Melancholia because I've never seen anything like it. It moves Castaway slow. But yet it had a uniquely artistic quality to it that is attributable to its director Lars Von Trier's distinct, psychosocial, expressionistic style. He managed to show the cast in compelling, believably dysfunctional roles and yet, allow these characters to change in ways we'd understand the reasons for during the movie.  And he managed this without a lot of characters yelling and screaming their heads off or becoming physically violent to one another.  A lot of this was shown through the careful display of the actors' ability to show emotions through their facial expressions and body language. Not something you see in a typical movie.  I can see why he is such an acclaimed director.

A great part of the characters' evolution centers around the impending planetary collision between earth and a new gaseous planet called Melancholia (hence the movie's title), which supposedly was just going to be a "fly-by" and not an actual collision. But you can see how all this anticipated doom affects the characters as they try desperately to focus on life and not on death.

Justine, played by Kirsten Dunst, tries her hardest to look happy and keep her composure on her wedding day despite the belittling remarks made by her mother and despite the constant criticisms expressed by her boss (who was also at the wedding). Her sister, Claire, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg, doesn't seem all that helpful either at first because it seemed she was more worried about how much she and her husband spent on this lavish wedding and reception than she was about how her sister truly felt.

Yet later on, when Justine became so depressed that she could barely function in her daily activities, Claire was the unrelenting caregiver who seemed that she would give up everything (including her husband, played by Kiefer Sutherland, who was already angry that Justine was living there with the couple and their child) to take care of her sister. You wonder why Claire was doing all this instead of simply taking Justine to a psychiatrist.  Perhaps there were none?  Or maybe I missed it when I started to wonder if I should even finish watching this very slow movie.

In another turning point in the story, Claire becomes more and more obsessed with the possible planetary collision that she ends up going through some kind of manic phase herself. It was kind of a sad twist to the story which ends up with the two sisters and Claire's son being together at the end, watching their world come to an end. 

If I had to rate this movie on a score of 1 to 5, I'd give it a 3 - only because I think the director and the cast did excellent jobs on the movie and truly deserve an award.  But I couldn't give it more because I don't think the storyline left me feeling like I'd want to see it again.  I actually felt kind of "melancholy" (no pun intended) after watching it. 

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