LARS VON TRIER | DENMARK | 2011 | 135 MIN | R
You must see MELANCHOLIA on the big screen, if only for the seven-minute opening that lays bare the film’s trajectory: a mysterious rogue planet (the titular MELANCHOLIA) collides with the Earth in exquisite, excruciating slow motion as Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde thunders throughout the auditorium. What follows is a first act so joyous and beautiful that you’d be forgiven for doubting that the Cannes Film Festival’s resident Enfant Terrible was behind the camera. That von Trier so perfectly captures the euphoric endorphin high of a bride on her wedding day is a cruel prelude to her catastrophic descent into profound depression. Kirsten Dunst won the Best Actress prize at Cannes with good reason for her portrayal of a woman teetering between madness and clarity, and Charlotte Gainsbourg is equally strong as Justine’s seemingly more grounded sister. Famously conceived at a time when von Trier himself was battling severe depression, MELANCHOLIA is one of cinema’s greatest evocations of despair, rendering human sadness as the stuff of lush, operatic spectacle.
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Alexander Skarsgård
“Watch this stunner on the biggest screen available, and with the best possible sound system. It’s a giant achievement.” –Entertainment Weekly