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“Melancholia” May Be Great

Have you ever watched a movie and known that it was incredibly good technically but you still couldn’t stand it? “Melancholia” is one of those movies for me.

“Melancholia” is the story about two sisters and their encroaching doom as a previously hidden planet is on a collision course with Earth.

Split into two parts, the first follows Justine (Kirsten Dunst) on her wedding day which ultimately ends in the groom leaving the reception without her. The second focuses on Justine’s older sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) while she tries to hold her family together and pull Justine out of her depression after the wedding.

The film starts without any dialog for the first ten minutes or so. Instead, we see several haunting and surreal images (of later scenes) set to sweeping orchestral music, inter-spliced with shots of outer space.

Justine’s story takes place at her wedding reception at her brother-in-law’s estate. It’s a party and the director, Lars von Trier, does a good job of capturing that vibe. It get the sense that anything could happen as you follow the bride and groom and all the other guests around.

Part of that is the hand-held cam that was used. Another part is von Trier’s past history as one of the founders of the Dogme 95 film movement of the mid-90’s.

Dogme 95 was a filmmaking approach were directors were given very strict guidelines on how to make a film. Some of the rules were: all filming must be done on location, no special effects or diegetic sound, no optical filters, and no superficial storylines among others. The most prominent of these films was “The Celebration” by Dannish director Thomas Vinterberg.

If you get nauseous easily this movie isn’t for you. I don’t, but it didn’t help that I saw this in a small, independent cinema and sat less than ten feet away from the screen. The shaky cam was enough to make me feel a little queasy.

Clair’s story has a more developed storyline. The planet is getting closer and collision with Earth is imminent. While the first half has a scattered, rejoiceful mood, the second has an understandably more somber tone.

The acting by all the main characters in superb and it is certainly a beautiful film but I never want to watch it again. NEVER!

Besides making me want to vomit, the storyline is nonsensical and I never understood why the characters were acting the way they were. I just didn’t get it.

“Melencholia” is an avant-guard film and I am all for experimental film-making and trying new things, this one just wasn’t for me.


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