Friday, January 6, 2012

TIFF Review - Melancholia

The world ends.

Now that's out of the way, we can move forward with the movie. Don't worry, the world ends at the beginning, in one of the most gorgeous opening sequences ever committed to film.  Lars von Trier's latest is fantastic film-
making.

Much has been made of this being his exploration of his own depression, and this movie is sure to help people understand what that might feel like.

Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgard) are on their way to their wedding at Justine's sister's (Claire - Charlotte Gainsbourg) manor, which is due to the obviously extravagant wealth of Claire's husband John (Kiefer Sutherland), playing an incredibly charming asshole.  As the night progresses, it becomes obvious that there is a fair bit of darkness underneath the virginal white surface of the event. Things get progressively worse until everyone goes home.

Months later, Justine returns to the house, catatonic with crippling depression. Terrified by a premonition she doesn't verbalize.  Her family tries to help her through this bout, while fighting among themselves.  While this is the focus, it's hardly the major plot point.  A planet dubbed Melancholia has appeared in our solar system and is heading towards Earth.  Not to worry though, as scientists have reassured the population that while it will come close, it will miss our planet while providing the most beautiful sight the world has ever seen. John, an amateur astronomer reassures his wife of this regularly.

As Claire's concerns about the oncoming planet increase, Justine comes out of her depression and starts connecting with her family again.  Then things get darker.

No description of the plot can do justice to this film.  I generally dislike Dunst's work, but her accolades for this one are well-deserved. The acting, the cinematography, and the underlying sense of dread and discomfort (things von Trier excels at) all come together to create a unique cinematic experience.  I recommend seeing this one in theatres, but if you have to see it at home, put it on a big screen and turn up the bass.

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