With Lars Von Trier going all Mel Gibson (kind of but not really, but his big mouth is his own worst enemy) at Cannes in May, you’ll be forgiven for forgetting that he was there to present his latest effort, the epic tale of sadness and apocalypse “Melancholia.” The film was picked up by Magnolia long before Cannes but a release date has now been set: it will hit theaters starting November 11th.
Starring Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt, Alexander Skarsgård, Stellan Skarsgård and Udo Kier — most of whom are only present for the wedding sequence in the first act of the film — the story centers on two sisters, Justine (Dunst) and Claire (Gainsbourg) who greet the news that the world is coming to the end quite differently. With the planet Melancholia on a crash course for earth, Justine who has long been unhappy finally embraces the inevitable fate that is coming while Claire is terrified, a feel exacerbated by the fact there is nothing anyone can do.
We saw the film at Cannes and as great as the “psychological disaster film” concept is on paper, the film is a disappointment. While Von Trier has never been shy about putting his personality in his films, with “Melancholia” it feels like one long therapy session, with the thematic undercurrent of his own battle with depression being a single, strained note in what is ultimately a fairly one dimensional film. Running 136 minutes, it’s also far too long. Broken up into two parts, time could be (and should be) shaved from both — there is no reason why the film needs to be more than two hours.
That said, it is an utterly gorgeous, beautifully shot film that contains some of the most impressive images the director has ever created. And yes, Dunst’s Cannes winning performance is that good, and she proves herself to be a strong dramatic actress, anchoring the film in a way we’ve seen her do before. So yes, it’s a mixed bag, a film that is banal, beautiful and both exciting and tedious all at once. In short, it’s a Lars Von Trier film.
No word yet on the exact details of the rollout or if there will be a VOD component as well, but it’s a sure bet that Magnolia will trot the film out on the festival circuit this fall. And oh yeah, here’s a new French one sheet for the film as well. [IndieWire/Dread Central]