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:: Melancholia

There is no point in denying it. Director Lars von Trier has delivered the best and most powerful film of his career, and that is saying something considering that his body of work has contained classics such as The Idiots, Antichrist and Dogville. Melancholia is the kind of film that will have you thinking ‘what the?’ while you are watching it, but give it time, let it settle as you reflect upon it and soon you to will be marveling at the genius that is Lars von Trier.

Melancholia is told in two halves. The first half is set on the night of the extremely depressed Justine’s (Kirsten Dunst) wedding to her husband, Michael (Alexander Skarsgard). But the night is anything but perfect. Justine’s mother (Charlotte Rampling) is being a bitch; her father (John Hurt) is horny and obsessed by the women at his table, her sister, Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is cranky and her brother-in-law, John (Kiefer Sutherland) is becoming aggressive in reminding her that he is paying for the night. Add this to the stress of work and it’s not hard to see why Justine is having a breakdown.

Part Two of Melancholia is told after Justine’s wedding and through the eyes of Claire. A recently-discovered planet called Melancholia is heading towards earth. And while the scientific John is saying it will miss Earth Justine’s research (on the Internet) has led her to believe that there will be a catastrophic collision. Convinced of this she brings a mentally-ruined Justine to their house so she can spend her last days with her Justine, John and her son Leo (Cameron Spurr).

Anyone who has ever doubted Lars von Trier ability should be silenced by the opening ten minutes of this film. Von Trier has created what could almost be described as a ‘music video’ set to the music of Wagner’s opera Tristan And Isolde. Some may argue that the eerie montage of Earth’s final seconds is similar to the scenes of The Tree Of Life… I disagree. The Tree Of Life as a mis-directed piece of rubbish while von Trier’s scenes are eerily beautiful, and lets face it if they were paintings they would be hanging on the walls of the world’s top galleries.

Melancholia really is a masterpiece. The opening is spectacular but the rest of the film moves it up into another gear again. Some may see lengthy scenes such as the limo trying to get up the driveway as von Trier losing the plot. What they need to realise is that he is merely setting up the characters. The first half of the film is von Trier doing what he has shown us he loves doing (in films such as The Idiots), and that is making fun of the upper class. The second part of the film is von Trier’s version of a disaster movie, except his style of filmmaking allows for ten times the suspense then you would ever have felt in films such as Armaggedon.

This is also the film that has shown the world just what a fine actress Kirsten Dunst has turned into. Forget about her roles in stuff such as Bring It On or Spider-Man, this is the moment where she really announces herself. To her credit she matches the brilliant performance of Charlotte Gainsbourg and there aren’t too many actresses who can say they have done that.

Sure some people will disagree strongly, but for me Melancholia is a masterpiece and von Trier has finally shown the world what he is truly capable of.