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Melancholia Theatrical Review

By Nov 18, 2011 09:11 AM EST
The film Melancholia by writer and director Lars von Trier stimulates the artistic part of the brain with sprawling landscape images, ominous tableaus and threatening visuals of a drifting planet. The film moves along playing out like the definition of its title. Melancholia: a mental condition and especially a manic-depressive condition characterized by extreme depression, bodily complaints, and often hallucinations and delusions.
Lars doesn't pull any punches here or hide the intention of the story in any way.  He takes the lovely conflicted Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and pairs her with Michael (Alexander Skarsgård) a love-smitten man who has visions of a future with her. 
In part one (Justine) of the two-act script, the newly married couple are on their way to their reception at a beautiful mansion and are late due to some issues with their limo driver.  The party is a gift from Justine's sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her husband John (Kiefer Sutherland) who want to make the late afternoon soirée something that everyone will never forget. 
Lars treats his audience to an ominous feast however, complete with a brooding bride who has lost herself in an almost surrealistic emotional despair, a puzzled husband and other elements way beyond the word ‘festive', ending the event both faithless and unfaithful.
At the start of part two (Claire) we find Justine forlorn still at her sister's vast estate trying to recover from the night before, but this time Lars presents his audience a different kind of depressing stimulus, the threat of a collision between Earth and the roving planet Melancholia.  Here Lars's camera focuses on the dangerous planet hovering over the estate with its expansive manicured lawns, neighboring lush woodlands, and opulent estate buildings.  Justine begins to succumb to the pull of Melancholia while Claire attempts to draw her out of the dreary mental state. Now on the verge of something even more unimaginable, Claire herself starts to slide into the abyss.
Melancholia, although an amazing work of art accomplishes what Lars set out to do, make a depressing movie. If I could categorize the film on whether it is the best dismal film ever, it's certainly near the top of the list. Not a mainstream contender for box-office glory, yet still art for those who like films intriguing and all absorbing.  
Lars brings out some brilliant acting on the part of the main cast and support players in this fantasy tale.  Providing a stage for their craft with Dunst at the center of the enigma, Lars works his characters into frenzy as they try to come to grips with the inevitable. I especially liked Gainsbourg's performance as the hapless woman who takes on her sister's plight only to realize that time has run out for Justine and her family. I would love to see her recognized for her performance with an Oscar nomination.
Melancholia is rated R for some graphic nudity, sexual content and language.  The film emits a depressive feeling that may tend to extract a somber mood from susceptible viewers. The film runs just over 2 hours.

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MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 130 minutes
Distributed By: Magnolia Pictures

For more information about Melancholia visit the FlickDirect Movie Database.

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