Screened as part of NZIFF 2011
“Although Melancholia, by its very title, declares a mournful state of mind, the movie is, in fact, the work of a man whose slow emergence from personal crisis has resulted in a moving masterpiece, marked by an astonishing profundity of vision. The title, by the way, refers to a celestial body as well as a state of mind: in von Trier’s galaxy, Melancholia is a planet that, scientific calculations confirm, is on a catastrophic collision course with Earth. As such, the impending doom fits perfectly with the mindset of Justine (an alabaster Kirsten Dunst), a bride sinking deeper and deeper into her own terrible depression on the day of her sumptuous wedding party. (Her handsome, bewildered groom is played by True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgård.) Even her protective sister, Claire (Antichrist’s Charlotte Gainsbourg), can’t calm Justine’s mounting terror and foreboding. And Claire, of all people, has something bigger to worry about: keeping a telescopic eye on the situation, she and her astronomer husband (Kiefer Sutherland) know that Melancholia is literally coming closer and threatening to destroy everything. Everything.
I’m not giving away a plot twist: von Trier provides a breathtaking prelude to the coming temporal and psychological apocalypse, set to the grand romanticism of Wagner’s famous ‘Prelude’ from Tristan und Isolde. The lush music blends so completely with the swooning, dreamscape cinematography of Manuel Alberto Claro that sight and sound truly melt into one… The result is a movie acutely attuned to feelings of despair that nevertheless leaves the viewer in a state of ecstasy.” — Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly