The opening shots of Melancholia are the best in the film. It opens with Kirsten Dunst’s puffy face- she looks like something out of a Botticelli painting, staring straight at the camera as dying birds rain down behind her. It feels like a demented, nihilistic Rolland Emmerich film. Sadly the rest of the film is turgid, silly, misanthropic and nowhere near as engaging as the prelude.
To sum up the plot: Planet earth is doomed. This is probably a good thing. Agree? Disagree?
I’m being a bit unfair. The first part is quite good as well, but not as magnificent as the opening. We are shown perhaps the most awkward and uncomfortable wedding ever. Von Trier is surprisingly good at comic timing and is quite deft with his tone- he manages to jump between comedy and tragedy quite well. The second part is where the problem sets in. I have major issues with the framing device- something like the impending end of the world is too big, too ridiculous a symbol to use. It feels crude and superficial to deal with a topic like that in a 2 hour film.
The message as far as I could tell was that some people may be able to channel their depression into a way of coping with the end times, but that is a pretty flimsy premise to build a film on. Charlotte Gainsbourg is incredible, I dislike Kristen Dunst and this film didn’t make me like her any more, Kiefer Sutherland is the only normal person in the film and acts as the audience stand in. Perhaps it is telling that he kills himself part way through the second act.
If anything all the characters seemed much better off dead, even the kid who probably wouldn’t turn into a horrible human being like his parents. This seemed to be Von Trier’s point, and I can’t say that I disagree. I can say that I was curiously unaffected by the whole thing. (3/5)