I heard lots of rave reviews from film critics and the not-so-nice comments made about the movie despite its lead actress Kirsten Dunst scored Best Actress at 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Even Rosie O'Donnell said something brutal about her experience watching Melancholia ("I'd rather give birth on the floor of an igloo rather than watching it again"). Needless to say, I was intrigued and I watched it.
Taking from IMDB.com, in a nutshell, the movie is about "two sisters (Dunst & Gainsbourg) find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet (Melancholia) threatens to collide with the Earth."
I know, the movie sounds absurd. You would have expected stuff like this would be made by Steven Spielberg or James Cameron, not Lars von Trier (the director).
However, after spending a good 2 hours and 5 minutes watching it, I must say Melancholia is a very good film without ridiculous turns or plots.
The film starts with a slow-mo set of (beautiful, gorgeous) pictures but will keep you asking 'What the hell is this?'. I won't blame anyone for having that thought as you see slow-mo, digitally-altered clips of Kirsten Dunst running in the woods with her legs tied to long tree roots, electric current emancipates from her fingers, bride laying down in river etc. Crazy, I know but as the movie progresses, you will learn that those set of slow-mo clips are basically a complete recap of the movie itself - even before it starts! Surprise!
Lars von Trier explores two main central issues in this picture: vulnerability and dependency. He tries to provoke a new dimension in looking at how we connect to and affect each other. When Melancholia (the new, strange planet) is about to collide with earth, we can see how relationships between characters change, some for the better and others for worse. Family ties are questioned during time in need and emotional support from your loved ones becomes a luxury.
The film is divided into two parts: the first part is about Kirsten Dunst's character 'Justine' where she can't find happiness even on the day of her wedding. Her mother disowns her marriage and her father is indifferent to her breakdown. The second part is about Justine's sister 'Claire' played by Gainsbourg and this part further probes into the issues of vulnerability, helplessness, vanity, relationship and trust when Claire tried to strengthen her ties with Justine yet, having to face the probability of the world end.
If you fancy 'heavy' film with lots of issues embedded, then this one's for you. I give it 7.5 out of 10, because it's tad too long (over 2 hours), too slow and sometimes the artful presentation of the film annoyed me although aesthetically-pleasing (akin to Tom Ford's 'The Single Man').