Top critical review
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Offbeat and artistic end-of-the-world yarn
on 27 July 2012
Melancholia is an utterly original, borderline pretentious, but occasionally stunningly beautiful take on the old end-of the world scenario.
The extended opening sequence, employing extreme slow-motion effects and astronomical imagery is gorgeous to behold, every scene from which could be hung in The Tate.
This leads into Justine's story (Kirsten Dunst), which cleverly parallels her inner melancholy with the approach of Earth's aptly named nemesis. The message I took from Part 1 is that humans tend to focus on trivia whilst failing to observe the bigger picture. Things gather pace with Part Two - Claire. Here, the focus switches to Justine's sister (superbly played by Charlotte Gainsbourg) as she attempts to balance her life as a wife, mother and sister/nursemaid with her growing feelings of impending doom.
It all sounds pretty grim and depressing doesn't it? Any yet, somehow, the film manages to be, well if not exactly uplifting, at least stirring and inspiritional about the human spirit. At 135 minutes, Melancholia threatens on occasion to overstay its welcome, but stay the course and you will be rewarded and, believe me, many scenes will remain with you for a long time. On Blu-ray it all looks magnificent and the audio, which includes a Wagnerian score, is suitably grandiose. Interviews, making-of and a trailer completes the package.
Whilst I found much to enjoy here, Melancholia will clearly not be to everyone's taste and, as apocalyptic movies go, Melancholia is about as far removed from say 2012 as you can get. If you are a patient soul and are happy to sacrifice action for more profound and contemplative material, then Melancholia is worth adding to your collection. 3.5 stars seems about right.