Melancholia (12A)

Film

Science fiction

Alexander Skarsgrd, Kirtsen Dunst, center, and Charlotte Gainsbourg in...

Alexander Skarsgrd, Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, from left, in Melancholia

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>2</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Posted: Tue Sep 27 2011

This is a lethargic, pretty and empty study in ways of living and dying from Lars von Trier. The Dane borrows some of the trappings of the sci-fi genre – in the same way he set the Dogme rules for ‘The Idiots’ or adopted a Brechtian austerity for ‘Dogville’ – to follow his peculiar nose for human behaviour. It’s a calmer work than his last, ‘Antichrist’, but it impresses only on a technical level, rather than on an intellectual or emotional one.

For all the time we spend with two sisters, Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), whose reactions to the world’s end define the film’s two chapters – it feels like von Trier is in it just for a few images set to music from Wagner’s ‘Tristan and Isolde’. We see the best of them in an opening montage: a moon and a planet cast shadows across a garden at night; Dunst’s character floats in water in a nod to Millais’s ‘Ophelia’ and a planet swallows up Earth.

Apathy or engagement, looking inwards or outwards, the expression of depression… these are some of the film’s themes. The first chapter, ‘Justine’, plays out at her wedding in a country house. These scenes are recognisably by the von Trier of old, shot in a handheld style, with jump cuts and flippant talk. The dialogue, though, feels jarring and bogus. For the second chapter, ‘Claire’, the wedding is over, and we’re left at the house. This is where the film feels without a proper script, and Dunst and Gainsbourg flap through scenes of false emotion as Claire is terrified in contrast to Justine’s ultra-passive attitude to the coming apocalypse.

Strip away the Wagner, the opening and a few arresting images, and we’re left with too much filler that feels under-developed, uninteresting and underwhelming. The best of ‘Melancholia’ would make a great photography exhibition. The rest is best forgotten.
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Release details

Rated:

12A

UK release:

Fri Jul 1, 2011

Duration:

136 mins

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:22
  • 4 star:11
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:5
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|80
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Helen

Very, very seriously, the very worst film I have ever, ever watched. The very worst by far. Having read other comments, I have zero preconceived notions about this director. I have never heard of him before. This film is absolutely the worst piece of garbage I have ever seen in my 45 years of life. No adgenda, no axes to grind, just my honest opinion of the very worst ilm I have literally ever watched in my entire life. I have found amusement and at least some enjoyment in some terrible b movies. This film is quite simply a total and complete waste of film time and actors. If I had paid to see this film, I might seriously have considered suing, it was that appauling and painful to watch. I should be compensated for the couple of hours of my life lost watching this totally shit piece of crap film. If I was not clear.... I think this is among the very worst films ever made. I cannot believe it even made it to the screen.

Helen

Worst film ever. It does not even deserve half a star. Depressing, disjointed and fake. I have never experienced worse. Reading "The Woodlanders" was an action packed adventure compared to this atrocity. Zero entertaintment, poetry, point at all. Total rubbish. I thought "Blair Witch" was bad until this.

Diane

So, so slow and it is not a matter of 'not getting it', there was nothing to 'get'! Boring and a total waste of 2 hours! The only bit that made me smile was the ending where they were all wiped out, hallelujah!!

Matt

Great film, but not a conventional or a feel good film. The characters are not particularly likeable, and the plot is somewhat awkward. This is not intended to make the audience feel good, this is intended to make the audience think. What made this film good was the philosophy behind it and the possible change in ones paradigm that accompanies it. The truth is that we are all alone in some ways and going in separate directions as our fellow human beings. Most of us are in denial of our own deaths, and the inevitable approach of a metaphorical "meloncholia" (death) that is doomed to hit us all. I can imagine people do not like the way this film reminds them of their own alienation and mortality. Not a perfect film, but unique and worth seeing.

SCIFIFANAGAIN

Recommended for those who enjoy watching sickly flowers wilt in slo-mo over 90 minutes! Depressed self-involved females may resonate with this film. Schizoid rich males with mid-life crisis should NOT watch this film - Lars portrays the only reasonable character as a coward who would prefers to queitly commit suicide WITHOUT amidst the heavenly scent of horse poo. Because that's what Lars would do - hate and dump his family if the world is ending! What a great mind!

SCIFIFAN

Pretty cinematography. Ugly everything else: unnecessary nauseating shakycam, pathetic characters, phony meaningless monologues as the empty characters pretend to have a dialogue. Lars obviously have serious issue with the entire human race, animals, plants, and mother earth. There is only one clear point he made for this still portrait pretending to be motion picture: Lars is an empty, miserable, SADISTIC man with excessive interest in breasts attached to a boring pale self-destructive cynical woman with little redeeming quality. Waste of time.

bob

Once again those that don't like a film are accused of not 'getting it'. What there is to get is not spelled out. Visual beauty? Yes, but only to underline the corresponding vacuity of content. Badly scripted to the extent of seeming at times like a b-movie. Peoples exchanges didn't sound like natural speech nor were they poetic. A film that signally fails to live up to its organising conceit.

Barbara

I don't think you "got" this movie This is one of the most beautiful works of art in film I have ever seen-You can understand Justines reasoning for her apathy towards life by the abysmal treatment from her dysfunctional family-other than her nephew- The film is so beautiful scene after scene of landscapes - the acting flawless-I have worked psychiatry and Kirsten Dunst had a depressive episode acted it perfectly-it deserved far more awards and attention-but it is already a classic.

Barbara

I don't think you "got" this movie This is one of the most beautiful works of art in film I have ever seen-You can understand Justines reasoning for her apathy towards life by the abysmal treatment from her dysfunctional family-other than her nephew- The film is so beautiful scene after scene of landscapes - the acting flawless-I have worked psychiatry and Kirsten Dunst had a depressive episode acted it perfectly-it deserved far more awards and attention-but it is already a classic.

Lars Rules

Has anyone of you thought that the end of the world could mean the end of inner world? A planet called "melancholia" definitively crushing your inner world forever? The sci-fi angle to it is a pure metaphor. The blackness that the film leaves (everything gone forever) is absolute and it's not about losing our blue planet but ourselves.

Lars Rules

Has anyone of you thought that the end of the world could mean the end of inner world? A planet called "melancholia" definitively crushing your inner world forever? The sci-fi angle to it is a pure metaphor. The blackness that the film leaves (everything gone forever) is absolute and it's not about losing our blue planet but ourselves.

Jane B

Good film, watchful, brooding and atmospheric. Great choice to have Tristan and Isolde, the most beautiful music man has created Qin his time on Earth. All that beauty, creativity, the whole of history obliterated in seconds, Rome may have not been built in a day but it was wiped out in an instant. The characters were well drawn, Justine selfish and egocentric, Claire overwhe,lmed by her need to protect her son. The house of sticks was brilliant, and why would they look at the planet, they were helping the boy achieve a magical and imaginary place of safety, so that he didn't feel absolute terror.

Jane B

Good film, watchful, brooding and atmospheric. Great choice to have Tristan and Isolde, the most beautiful music man has created Qin his time on Earth. All that beauty, creativity, the whole of history obliterated in seconds, Rome may have not been built in a day but it was wiped out in an instant. The characters were well drawn, Justine selfish and egocentric, Claire overwhe,lmed by her need to protect her son. The house of sticks was brilliant, and why would they look at the planet, they were helping the boy achieve a magical and imaginary place of safety, so that he didn't feel absolute terror.

Andrew

the most dreary film I have ever seen. i'm only thinking of it this morning because I'm so annoyed at having wasted my money.

Suze

comment youype in this box will appear on the site Loved this film.So beautifully shot.Such deep emotions....still makes me emotional to think of last scene.Charlotte and Kirsten were exceptional.

Suze

comment youype in this box will appear on the site Loved this film.So beautifully shot.Such deep emotions....still makes me emotional to think of last scene.Charlotte and Kirsten were exceptional.

Mel

Ha it made me laugh when the bride peed, I've done that loads and I can tell you the pee would have run into her lovely brides dress....poooooo

Mel

A woeful indulgent attempt at being clever. Dunst was astoundingly self indulgent, the character was not likable or quite sociopathic to a degree and the film focused on her in a huge way, that for me was a mistake. There were so many parts of the film that didn't make sense from the Husband killing himself which was a thing I don't think the character would do without his wife and kids joining him. and for gods sake at the end why the hell did they make a cave and not once look up at the planet coming towards them. Not a thrilling movie and I want my money back.

Marc Seller

Oops, forgot to rate. It has to be a five star. For some reason I can't explain I am still thinking about this film 5 days on. It must be the romance of a beautiful planet wiping out this filthy earth. Cosmic karma in the form of total destruction, how poetically ironic!

Marc Seller

Oops, forgot to rate. It has to be a five star. For some reason I can't explain I am still thinking about this film 5 days on. It must be the romance of a beautiful planet wiping out this filthy earth. Cosmic karma in the form of total destruction, how poetically ironic!

paulo

Von Triers always divides audiences but i've found the people who rate him to be largely the type who presume those that don't like him just aren't clever enough to understand him, in the same way that they might not be sophisticated enough to appreciate a Rothko painting. I think this attitude sums up the, director, his films and his audience.

dermot

Sorry for the analogy,but this was a film of two halves. The first , although flawed was gripping. The second , with a few shafts of light, was a big yawn. Overall , a rating of three OS probably about right, though I wouldn't argue with those scoring it two, cos that 2nd half was largely woeful. Dunst, I've always rated and she deserves the pludits. Gainsborough was so iratating I could've screamed , and did internally. Give the editing a thorough back to school once over. And a quite decent film is in there waiting to be released. But at present it leads to deceive, and at the end its a flop.

tony

Magnificent film. The characters may jar but is that not the whole point in exploring the vacuity of unbridled materialism. Totally agree its not for everyone; if your the sort who can't spend any time with a rothko; I'm sure there will be something playing on a neighboring screen which will be more intune with your sensibilities.

tony

Magnificent film. The characters may jar but is that not the whole point in exploring the vacuity of unbridled materialism. Totally agree its not for everyone; if your the sort who can't spend any time with a rothko; I'm sure there will be something playing on a neighboring screen which will be more intune with your sensibilities.

Deeper Into Movies

"Melancholia" may be the most depressing film of the year—excepting perhaps x-rays at a cancer clinic. Part psychodrama, part sci-fi, this intriguing but portentous end-of-the-world fantasy had me checking my watch, not the Mayan calendar. You’re in for the time of your life if you fancy a close encounter with nebulous story lines and trippy imagery. It's really two movies, schizophrenically orbiting around a gothically apocalyptic plot.... ----- Entire review available at Deeper Into Movies Google blog (deepintomovies.blogspot.com) and on Facebook.

Fftrix

This film is the first film for many years that has astounded me with it's beauty and insight. The wedding scene is brilliantly portrayed with the stumbling half conversations, the intense emotions aroused in both sisters, the loveable John hurt who eventually escapes quickly from a conversation with his daughter that he does not want to have. Justness emotional needs have never truly been met and her world is imploding in on itself, just as the real world does with the arrival of the aptly named "Melancholia". Some scenes will remain with me forever, the beautiful scenes at the start to Tristan and Isolde, the birds falling dead like confetti, the sexual and emotional needs that Justine craves being answered by the approaching planet (very D H Lawrence), the despair felt by Claire as she tries to protect her beautiful son from being destroyed. The scenes of Claire running desperately, carrying her son in her arms will stay with me forever. This film has it all, the beauty of the world and mankind, and also how terrible both can be. Fantastic!

Fftrix

This film is the first film for many years that has astounded me with it's beauty and insight. The wedding scene is brilliantly portrayed with the stumbling half conversations, the intense emotions aroused in both sisters, the loveable John hurt who eventually escapes quickly from a conversation with his daughter that he does not want to have. Justness emotional needs have never truly been met and her world is imploding in on itself, just as the real world does with the arrival of the aptly named "Melancholia". Some scenes will remain with me forever, the beautiful scenes at the start to Tristan and Isolde, the birds falling dead like confetti, the sexual and emotional needs that Justine craves being answered by the approaching planet (very D H Lawrence), the despair felt by Claire as she tries to protect her beautiful son from being destroyed. The scenes of Claire running desperately, carrying her son in her arms will stay with me forever. This film has it all, the beauty of the world and mankind, and also how terrible both can be. Fantastic!

paulo

forgot to rate - 2 stars - just for the stunning shots of the ominous looming planet.

luke

This is what film is supposed to do -- fill the screen and your head with visually arresting images that engage you in the dark. In this, it succeeds wonderfully. Ms Dunst, obviously disturbed, declaring the world "evil" and not worth saving, takes a dionysian view of its end; her sister, a mother protecting her son, is a dramatic contrast with her more predictable appolonian view of a horror about to engulf them. This is not small screen imagining, not small screen conceptualizing. Kind of wondrous in its confused way.

satguru

bloody original. A must see if you like depth. The director is a genius and hats off to him for darling to be one! More movies like this, instead of the crap that's around these days of pretentious, nothing-to-do-with reality type. It describes well cold depression which is what our society is living at large right now.

satguru

bloody original. A must see if you like depth. The director is a genius and hats off to him for darling to be one! More movies like this, instead of the crap that's around these days of pretentious, nothing-to-do-with reality type. It describes well cold depression which is what our society is living at large right now.

UZ

I normally trust Timeout on reviews but Melancholia was a pleasant surprise. Unlike the critics I am not raving about Kirsten Dunst (a strong B+ but nothing to write home about). The film itself is mesmerising. Yes, it is slow (and my loving it didn’t stop me from looking at my watch at least twice - “how much longer?..�) but the experience is totally rewarding. I can see why it hasn’t earned raving reviews. I reminded me a lot of Solaris – not the Clooney but the original Tarkovsky one. It’s painstakingly slow and makes you wish for a softer cinema seat, yet it’s deeply emotional - the type of a film that lingers with you for days and days

UZ

I normally trust Timeout on reviews but Melancholia was a pleasant surprise. Unlike the critics I am not raving about Kirsten Dunst (a strong B+ but nothing to write home about). The film itself is mesmerising. Yes, it is slow (and my loving it didn’t stop me from looking at my watch at least twice - “how much longer?..�) but the experience is totally rewarding. I can see why it hasn’t earned raving reviews. I reminded me a lot of Solaris – not the Clooney but the original Tarkovsky one. It’s painstakingly slow and makes you wish for a softer cinema seat, yet it’s deeply emotional - the type of a film that lingers with you for days and days

Steve

Booooring. What a pathetic piece of trash. This movie drags and drags and goes nowhere. A pretentious story about pathetic losers and their pathetic lives. Depressing and boring. Don't waste your time and money. Rated it one star because I can't give it a zero or a minus 5 which it deserves.

Ed

Loved this but can see why it's not universally appreciated. I could well have imagined hating it if I'd been in a different mood (see also most of LVT's previous!).

Vt

Just another trash movie from the world's most overrated film director.

Josh

While I don't agree with the criticism of this film in the comments I can't help thinking that the strength of feeling in evidence tells you something about it. It's not perfect by any means, but if you have watched it and felt frustrated, irritated and aggravated then Lars von Trier has communicated something to you. I don't think a film about depression should be easy to watch, and I would urge those people who found this film difficult to take to ask themselves whether that's necessarily a bad thing.

Carolina

Forgot to put the 5 stars earlier, so there. Will any of the people who downright hated the film please explain to me what their expectations were going into a film called Melancholia, directed by the clearly misanthropic/lunatic Lars Von Trier, with a poster of an Ophelia-like Kirsten Dunst staring straight at you? Were you expecting Rachel's Wedding? Or maybe Four Weddings and a Funeral? A realistic depiction of the wedding ritual and its aftermath? First off, this is a work of fiction, coming from the imagination of a man who clearly doesn't give a damn about the limitations of reality. Thank God. Because by doing so, he got deeper into some truth than most films. But one can say that truth is in the eye of the beholder, so there's no point in calling each other names.

Carolina

Forgot to put the 5 stars earlier, so there. Will any of the people who downright hated the film please explain to me what their expectations were going into a film called Melancholia, directed by the clearly misanthropic/lunatic Lars Von Trier, with a poster of an Ophelia-like Kirsten Dunst staring straight at you? Were you expecting Rachel's Wedding? Or maybe Four Weddings and a Funeral? A realistic depiction of the wedding ritual and its aftermath? First off, this is a work of fiction, coming from the imagination of a man who clearly doesn't give a damn about the limitations of reality. Thank God. Because by doing so, he got deeper into some truth than most films. But one can say that truth is in the eye of the beholder, so there's no point in calling each other names.

Lee

As Timeout can't even be bothered to remove the idiot with spoilers, I shall be removing myself from using this site again.

Lee

As Timeout can't even be bothered to remove the idiot with spoilers, I shall be removing myself from using this site again.

conflicted filmgoer

I wasn't really sure what to make of this - the opening scenes are some of the most wonderful strange images I've ever seen in a movie - literally worth seeing for these alone. Also, impressive cast and some genuine humour. But the two lead characters were SO irritating! It took a lot of effort to keep watching after the first fifteen minutes. The reviewer is correct: too much filler.

Iain

Oh, and since Sue B keeps adding her star rating repeatedly, 5 stars.

Iain

Oh, and since Sue B keeps adding her star rating repeatedly, 5 stars.

Sue B

At risk of repeating myself.....yes it sort og gets depression......but who and what doesn't.....it then paints it in beauty and points out the obvious that happiness and order are as perverse .....it just has no real characters, no real feeling and no humanity and therefore for me it is a series of loveley pictures which depression is not in my experience and sentimental predictable if beautifully filmed endings.......Jackanory!!!!

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