I had really no desire to see Melancholia the new film by Lars von Trier because the guy is such an ass and every time he opens his mouth he inserts his foot into it. But when Kirsten Dunst won best actress at Cannes I was intrigued, and then when other smart folks whose opinions I value also mentioned the film, I decided to suck it up and try and see it which I was able to do last month when I was traveling in Berlin.
I’m glad I got pushed into seeing it because it is a very good film. I honestly will admit that I don’t think I got the whole thing but it has stayed with me. Part 1 of the film takes place at the most expensive wedding you have ever seen between Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgard). When you meet Justine she seems perfectly normal but quickly you realize that Justine is a very troubled woman. She spends the whole wedding trying, just trying, to get through the evening but she can’t. She is severely depressed. I don’t recall seeing a more depressed person on screen before. You look at her and you can see that she is not walking through air like the rest of us, she is walking through pea soup. Every step takes an intense effort and she just can’t do it. It exhausts her. She just wants to take a bath and go to sleep and this is a day she is really happy.
But this is also a story between two sisters. Charlotte Gainsbourg (who is always good and if you have not yet seen The Tree you should) is Claire, the sister who takes care of Justine. She’s married to John (Kiefer Sutherland) who seems to be one of the richest guys in the world and they are throwing the wedding for Justine that is turning out to be a disaster. Claire is there for Justine. Every time Justine tries to make it on her own, Justine is there to pick up the pieces. But she’s got a big thing on her mind, the fact that a planet called Melancholia is hurtling towards earth. The fact that they all might die liberates Justine and scares the crap out of Claire. The movie shows how we don’t really have control over anything. The movie is a bit far fetched, but is a worthy journey.