The film begins with a long sequence of ultra slow motion images that are beautifully framed and shot. While stunning to look at, after a few minutes I did begin to worry if the whole film would be like this and it unfortunately began to remind me of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life which I really did not get. The remainder of the film is split into two sections, each named after one of the sisters, the first at a wedding and the second shortly after. After the quite wonderful opening sequence I found the cinematography in the rest of the film annoying. Von Trier uses a lot of shaky camera work and at times it is more like a Bourne film than an emotional drama.
Another problem I had with the film was Dunst’s character. While she is excellent in the role and probably the best I’ve ever seen her, I felt that her behaviour at her own wedding was ridiculous. I was surprised that her fiancé Michael (Alexander Skarsgard) would have wanted to marry her in the condition she was in. At the best he should have got her some medical help and at the worst, run a mile. I also found it strange that Dunst was American yet her mother, father and sister were English. It didn’t make much sense and I was confused for the first 45 minutes by who her parents were. I thought that the film on the whole was clunky and like a first draft. There are undoubtedly great moments in there but to me it felt like half a film. I also found it very monotonous. On the plus side, the view of Melancholia as it passed by and approached the Earth was spectacular and stunning.
Considering the last Lars von Trier film I watched, Antichrist had Charlotte Gainsbourg ‘pleasuring’ a man until he bled and then removing her own clitoris, I was hoping for a more enjoyable watch with Melancholia but while Antichrist isn’t an easy watch, I thought it was a better film. I realise I am opening myself up to not getting what von Trier was trying to do and while I do get the idea of depression and someone’s depression destroying the world, I just didn’t think it was dealt with in a satisfying way. The film was confusing and not interesting enough.