Melancholia (2011)

The week of “movies I’ve been dragging my feet on watching” continues, this time with Melancholia. See, once upon a time I rented this for Movie Night, and we skipped it. We tried to watch it! But the first 8 and a half minutes are just a slow motion recap (precap?) of the movie, and it was so insufferable that we gave up. It’s been at the bottom of my “to watch” list ever since, and now I’ve decided the time has come to see it. But was it any good? Enh… parts of it.

After the extended intro where I want to pull my hair out, we see the wedding reception of Justine (Ms. Kirsten Dunst) and Michael. It’s at her brother-in-law’s palatial estate, and everyone is awful. A collection of the worst people. Her sister, Claire (recurring Lars von Trier actress Charlotte Gainsbourg), is wound way too tight; Claire’s husband, John, has no patience for anyone other than himself; Justine’s boss demands work from her even during her wedding; her dad is a scatterbrained womanizer; her mom is emotionally abusive and the worst of the bunch; and there’s also Udo Kier as a wedding planner furious at Justine, covering his face every time he’s near her because he doesn’t want to look at her (okay, Udo is kind of great). Meanwhile, Justine is horribly depressed despite the happy occasion, and displays this through a general malaise. Oh, and she also fuck’s an intern. At the end of the night Michael leaves her–ON THEIR WEDDING NIGHT–because marriage didn’t magically fix her brain. As someone who has depression (and medication, thankfully), watching everyone around her not even try to understand how she was feeling was rather triggering!

But that’s just the first half of the movie! Everyone except Justine, Claire, John, and the couple’s son, Leo, is unimportant and never mentioned again. Justine is worse off than ever just as the rogue planet Melancholia is scheduled to pass by Earth. Claire is scared it’s going to kill everyone, but John says that scientists say that won’t happen. I don’t know if he was lying or following absolute crackpots, but it turns out there is indeed an impending cataclysm. He kills himself, leaving the ladies and his son behind. Claire wants to go out together on the patio, drinking some wine, but Justine says that’s a shit plan. Her idea? Hang out in an unfinished teepee while holding hands! Melancholia hits Earth, everyone is killed, and the movie is mercifully over.

I do have to say that there is some good in this. The planet’s flyby sucking away some atmosphere, causing Claire to have what appears to be a panic attack, was a nice touch. And there are some really beautiful shots! But… the movie was huffing its own farts. The entire first half was largely pointless, giving a horribly depressed person unnecessary backstory. Guess what! Being so depressed that you can’t bathe yourself doesn’t need an hour of backstory! It’s an actual problem some people are saddled with, shitty family or not. In the end, every time the movie started to get good, I’d be reminded how insufferable it is.

Speaking of, Justine apparently has psychic powers. Near the end she reveals that she knows things (okay, Layla Miller), shows she knows how many beans were in a bottle at the reception, and that we are in fact alone in the universe. Do with that what you will.


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