(Rated 4/5 )
Billed as a psychological disaster movie, this is the self-admitted melancholic Lars von Trier at his best. The visual imagery is stunningly beautiful and extraordinary. Really riveting! The film opens with a sequence of slow-motion snippets from the film, so powerful it’s hard to blink even! And hints at what we are to expect.
And then flows into normal motion and sequences of highly natural acting and direction. To me this felt like a documentary – really like the camera discovered scenes that mattered to best show us who and how these characters are, and how they interact with each other, and recorded them for us.
Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg play sisters, Justine and Claire, and the story is told in two parts; the first more from Justine’s POV and the second from Claire’s. The melancholic Justine is getting married and attempting to live a ‘normal’ life. Claire does her very best to try to make everything work for Justine, but in a way with all her fixing makes matters worse. We get an excellent insight into Justine’s psychology through witnessing her family’s behaviour at the wedding and how she responds to it. The camera sees into her soul via her eyes and body language.
Then, in a slightly bizarre twist we see how Claire and Justine handle the prospect of the planet Melancholia on a possible course towards an impact with earth. So much metaphor at work here! But also questions as to who is more able to handle real impending catastrophe – the sister with self-created anxieties and distress, or the more positive and apparently capable one.
A wealth of great names inhabit the characters in this film, but the core and heart of the acting and emotion come from Kirsten and Charlotte. They are superb and so revealing of their characters and the subtle twists and turns of the relationship between them. All so beautifully and artistically exhibited in the direction. Amazing and wonderful as well as truthfully insightful and disturbing.