If you’re looking for a happy family movie to watch on a relaxing Sunday afternoon, with the clue in the title, this probably isn’t the film for you. Melancholia takes the accepted norms of a sci-fi film and turns them on their head, telling the story of two sisters as they go through two conflicting cycles of depression. 

The film is set out in two parts; part one ‘Justine’ and part two ‘Claire’ – named after each sister. Each part focuses on the sister’s decline into depression, with the gradual realisation that ‘Melancholia’, an enormous planet, is on course to collide head on with Earth – which would effectively wipe out the planet.

…sensational performances all round…

Happy times!

Unlike your typical ‘the world is going to end’ film, Melancholia is set entirely in and around a rural hotel and follows just the two sisters (Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg), Claire’s husband (Kiefer Sutherland) and their son. It says nothing of the rest of the human race, how the media is reacting or any consensus of opinion – which for me made it a far more interesting watch.

The casting is incredible, with sensational performances all round, in particular Dunst is great in her portrayal of Justine, who’s both complicated and at times gloomy, but is also oddly likable.

…unique in it’s narrative execution…

The film is beautifully shot (the majority of which is hand-held) with some stunning opening slow motion scenes and great CGI. On top of that the lighting and colour throughout is fantastic. While the film is unique in it’s narrative execution, I can’t help but feel it was a little ‘style over substance’. Having said that I would not hesitate in recommending this film – although it is very much a cinema experience, I can’t see it translating well to DVD.

Images courtesy of Melancholia



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Currently a student attending University at Queen Mary, University of London.

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