Oh my. Oh my. Okay so, I had been hearing from a lot of people about this movie, mixed reviews, but people were definitely talking about it. That was like a couple months ago. I just got around to seeing it because I’m lazy and have no work ethic, even to do things I like. But enough about me!
Okay so let me just say I LOVED this movie. Loved. I thought it did what Tree of Life was trying to do. I mean, they were trying to do different things, but same sort of ballpark and where I think Tree of Life failed, I think Melancholia succeeded. Like, tenfold. So the movie is split into two narratives, Justine and Claire. They are sisters. Justine (Kirsten Dunst aka pebbletooth) is the first. We get introduced to her in the back of a limo, wearing a wedding dress with her soon to be husband. The limo driver can’t back up out of this tight space and they’re having a ball at his expense (douchebags) and finally they try to help, and they both end up driving, etc. They get to their own wedding more than two hours late. Charlotte Gainsbourg (Claire) and Keifer Sutherland (her husband) are portrayed as the responsible stick in the mud types.
Everyone’s laughing, dancing, then we sort of get clued in that Justine is a little psychotic and prone to episodes of crazy. She locks herself in a bathroom for the majority of the wedding and we see how hopelessly one sided her romance really is. aka when she’s happy everything is good, but when she’s sad, she’s booking it out of there emotionally. She actually has sex with someone else DURING HER WEDDING on a golf course on the grounds. Cool.
This part of the movie is really hard to get through because Kirsten is so painfully whatever she is and there’s not much else to hold onto. Oh also interspersed between this idyllic/depressing wedding scene Von Trier creates, we have these slow shots where Kirsten is like on a lightbox or something and the camera sort of slow scans her body and there’s lightning? It was very odd/taxing on the viewer. I watched this alone while dog-sitting and I just at times felt like- is this a test to see how much weird shit you can make people sit through in the name of art? Is this a joke? Am I being Punk’d? Ashton? Demi? Actually their life together is over and I’m sure it’s really sad for them. I take that joke back.
BUT back to this Lars Von Trier movie! So basically the first half with Claire is like a really long and artsy informercial about depression and it’s honestly kind of hard to get through. BUT then when we get to the second half- Claire- things really start to pick up. First we find out her husband isn’t a stick in the mud he’s just a scientist. And we find out about this OTHER PLANET that’s either going to crash into the earth and destroy it, or just sail harmlessly by. Claire is sort of obsessed with this planet thing and buys cyanide pills and gets into reading stuff on the internet (never good) and is kind of freaking out. Also she has a son (important). Justine has more freak outs in the beginning of this section and you really see her as a taxing burden more than a romantic/damaged/beautifully broken/Ashlee Simpson kind of thing the way it was portrayed when Justine was the protagonist.
Also there’s this sort of back and forth between Claire and her husband where she’s like “As a layperson should I be concerned about this planet mess? Explain science to me” and he’s like “As a scientist I can tell you with complete assuredness you have nothing to be concerned about. Trust me I understand science a lot.” But then after some internet research and some fancy tricks with a bent coat hanger we find out very quickly that she really does need to be concerned and that this planet is going to smash into the earth and kill everyone. Also her husband commits suicide leaving her and her little boy/all their horses to figure out how to survive on their own. Also yeah, horses play kind of a big role in this movie. I wouldn’t have thought Kirsten in all her depression and craziness was a horsegirl but man oh man is she ever. Claire kind of is too, probably something to do with the way they’re raised. Or their relationship with their dad. Idk. It’s not that kind of movie.
So when the planet shit really starts to hit the fan we see a new side of Justine- she’s sort of like an emotional idiot savant; she can’t really handle real life and melts in situations that require basic human interaction, but as we find out at the wedding, she’s brilliant at her job (something with advertising? Coming up with slogans? She’s like the female bipolar Don Draper) and she’s a sage when it comes to interplanetary collision. She is just spitting out wisdom at her sister, a complete role reversal from like an hour before when she was crying in a bathtub in her wedding dress and couldn’t collect herself if her life depended on it. Now that there’s a blue planet hours away from destroying all human life she’s a regular Deepak Chopra (but without the medical/science controversy).
Spoiler Alert: Everyone dies. The other planet (not to be confused with Another Earth a wonderful movie) hits Earth and they all die. Under this little teepee of sticks they made. I loved it. Not that they died, but because it was true to the world Von Trier created. So often people make these characters and a world, then they betray what they built just to have a nice neat ending tying up all the loose ends. Like if all this shit happens and someone loses a watch at the beginning of a movie, then later after all the shit somehow gets sorted out and the last shot is someone standing on a doorstep trying to apologize/make amends and they don’t say anything they just hold up the watch and then it cuts to black. Things like that make me want to shoot myself. Sometimes people just lose their watches you know?
So, I really liked that because the planet really was crashing into the Earth, they all died. There wasn’t some last minute bomb shelter that miraculously saved them, or some magic powers that a character had that we didn’t know about until now or even some next level narrative shit where they died, but they’re not dead they’re just on another plane of existence…something like that. No, they just died and the movie was over. It was sweet.