Sunday, December 11, 2011


Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Wedding Plans Take Back Seat to Impending, Extinction-Level Event in Apocalyptic Adventure

Would you able to enjoy your wedding, if the specter of an impending, extinction-level event hovered over your shoulder, literally and figuratively? That is the predicament in which Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgard) find themselves at the point of departure of this dour disaster flick.
The bride is definitely very depressed, despite the fact that her sister, Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and brother-in-law, John (Kiefer Sutherland), have thrown a glamorous reception at their mountaintop mansion with a view. Still, Justine takes a break from the festivities to peer skyward into the night and notices that a rogue planet called Melancholia is gradually coming closer and closer. She tries to rejoin the party, only to be so overwhelmed by the prospect of the apocalypse that decides to break off the marriage.
That gloomy scenario sets up the unsettling second act of Melancholia, a morose meditation on mortality directed by Lars von Trier. The Danish director actually breaks his movie in half, labeling the opening segment “Justine,” and the closing tableau “Claire.”
As part two begins, we find Justine single again and living with her sister’s family. She takes little comfort in astronomer John’s assurances that Melancholia will merely be a near-miss but not make impact, since the leading scientists agree that it’s on a collision course with Earth
Soon, however, the script is flipped with Claire becoming the one unable to handle the idea of annihilation, especially because she has the responsibility of allaying their young son Leo’s (Cameron Spurr) anxiety. Then, when her hubby inexplicably disappears, that all but confirms her worst fears, and it falls to Justine to summon up the courage to face fate with grace and stoicism.
It’s impossible to guess what the end of the world might look like or how you might behave, but this alternately surreal, seductive and sobering descent into dystopia is as good a guess as anybody’s.

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for sexuality, profanity and graphic nudity.
Running time: 130 Minutes
Studio: Zentropa
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

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