MELANCHOLIA REALLY ISN’T THE IDEAL FILM TO WATCH
WHEN YOU’RE SAD… OR HAPPY?
So when should you watch Lars Von Triers gorgeous yet depressing film? I think that’s a question that keeps me on the fence between liking and disliking the film.
Melancholia is, first and foremost, a gorgeous movie. Especially the haunting and breathtaking images in the film’s imaginative prologue. Indeed, this film is absolutely stunning. Adding to the incredible visuals is a score I loved and a sound mix that’s as real as the subject of the film.
However, many of the reviews I write focus on the experience of the film rather than commenting on things like shot composition and other technical and artistic elements. I do that because, to me, the experience takes everything into account. My experience with Melancholia can be divided into two distinct parts much like the structure of the film itself. The first half of the film was fascinating but it was also extremely long and sometimes boring. The second half was extremely intriguing but ruthlessly depressing. And so I’m torn.
PART 1: A DEPRESSING HUMAN
Depression is a serious thing and it’s THE central theme of the movie. Justine is an extremely depressed woman and Kirsten Dunst gives a remarkable performance here. The first half of the film is essentially a long wedding reception that Justine constantly tries to escape. The problem is, there is no where to go (audience included) and that’s why depression is so difficult to overcome. It’s borderline frustrating to watch because you’re expecting her to snap out of it and be happy again… but this isn’t a happy movie.
PART 2: A DEPRESSING PLANET
To me, the planet Melancholia truly encapsulates depression. The mysterious planet is on a collision course with Earth and spells imminent doom should it collide with our planet. Each of the characters in the story react to the threat differently but it’s all equally depressing. Some characters are fascinated but ultimately overcome by grief. Others are anxious about the event but desperately clinging to hope (only to lose it). Then there is Justine who feels that no one would miss the Earth if it’s destroyed.
All roads lead to depression city. Having said that, I thought the planet Melancholia was a perfect metaphor for depression. It’s something the characters want to escape but can’t and slowly they succumb to it. There is a positive message hidden in the film though. It’s spoken by Justine’s horrifically depressed and unpleasant mother.
“Enjoy it while it lasts.”
HAPPINESS ISN’T HIDING BEHIND THE SUN…
BUT A PLANET IS…
People who watch this movie will be waiting for a turning point like me. You always expect things to turn around at some point. I think that’s the film’s best slight of hand. In a way, Von Trier gives you that hope and then takes it away just like someone who suffers from depression. You will feel frustrated, sad, bored, tired yet intrigued throughout. It really is a phenomenal portrayal of depression.
It’s just a question of whether or not you are up for a downer movie like Melancholia. From the moment the credits rolled until the second I fell a sleep that night, I thought about the movie, my life, anxiety and more. In that way, Melancholia is a brilliant victory for Lars Von Trier. Ultimately, this movie gets a positive review overall because it’s gorgeous and the meaning of the planet Melancholia was truly fascinating. Having said that, there were still long stretches where not much happened except depressed people being depressed and depressing others.
If you need me, I’ll be watching Dumb & Dumber to reset my emotions.