Melancholia (2011) Review


Melancholia (2011)

Directed by Lars von Trier

Kirsten Dunst
Charlotte Gainsbourg
Alexander Skarsgård
Brady Corbet
Cameron Spurr
Charlotte Rampling
Jesper Christensen
John Hurt
Stellan Skarsgård
Udo Kier
Kiefer Sutherland

Running time: 136 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide with Earth.


My Opinion:

Here’s one of the most-voted-for movies in my recent poll (I already reviewed the top two winners: Spirited Away & Grave Of The Fireflies). I wasn’t sure what to expect from a Lars von Trier film. They’re artsy fartsy & weird, right? I was thinking this was my first von Trier film but, oh yeah!, I actually saw Dancer In The Dark years ago. That was pretty good… I know that probably a good ten years ago I spent quite possibly the most I’ve ever spent on a set of DVDs when I bought something called Riget (The Kingdom – a Lars von Trier TV mini-series from 1994-1997) because I’d read about it & it sounded awesome & I didn’t know who the hell Lars von Trier was. Shit… what did I buy?! I’ve still not watched it all these years later. Has anyone seen it? I’m a little scared now – I hope no one mutilates their genitals in it. Anyway, after all the rambling I’m going to say that I actually liked Melancholia quite a bit! Huh. I was expecting it to be totally pretentious (which I suppose it is) but I also thought it was very beautiful.


Melancholia is pretentious and artsy fartsy and full of rich wankers with their first world problems & Kirsten Dunst is depressed even though she’s young and rich and beautiful and successful and has an amazing chest. So right away it’s very hard to feel for these people although, as we’re introduced to more of Dunst’s family, we do at least start to feel for her having had to deal with these people in her life (especially her bitch of a mother) and start to understand why she is the way she is. Her sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is also very supportive so, as the movie is about the two sisters, it doesn’t get too annoying as these two are bearable. It’s like Frozen with severe depression! Look – shit is shooting from Dunst’s fingers kind of like how ice shoots from Elsa’s!


This movie is divided into two parts: Part 1 focuses on Dunst & the evening of her wedding while part 2 deals with Gainsbourg’s fear of the strange new planet Melancholia, which she is afraid will collide with Earth. I think a lot of people may struggle with part 1 as you really just watch Dunst in a wedding dress growing more & more depressed but it’s necessary for the character development of the two sisters & seeing what their relationship is like. I have to say I loved the very beginning which was just full of strange & beautiful imagery while classical music played (from Richard Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde. I won’t even pretend I didn’t have to look that up – I like some classical music but I’m more of an Iron Maiden fan). So I liked the first half of this film just fine although I think more will prefer the second half in which we watch Melancholia come closer & closer to Earth and the sisters’ roles are reversed. Basically, part 2 is much better (or is more “exciting”, I suppose) as the characters face their impending doom. Yay! I’ve always wanted to say “impending doom“!



Melancholia isn’t for everyone – you’ll probably love it or you’ll hate it. I suppose it is kind of a part of one of my favorite genres: apocalyptic. I’m obsessed with anything apocalyptic so right away I had an interest in checking out this film. I also don’t mind a bit of artsy fartsy pretentiousness now & then (I love things like Daft Punk’s Electroma) so I had no problem with any of that here. Although, it’s a pretty straightforward story and any symbolism isn’t weird or confusing – it all made sense & I actually thought it was a very interesting way to explore depression. I mean, there’s nothing that makes you go “what the HELL is von Trier smoking?“, which is the impression I get about his other films that I haven’t seen. There’s no genital mutilation here or anything. You know, I’m just assuming everyone knows what I’m on about since we’re all movie bloggers but maybe I should point out that this happens in his film Antichrist so some people don’t think I keep mentioning the mutilation thing out of the blue for no reason. I think I probably prefer watching pretty rich people being a little sad to some of Lars von Trier’s other films from what I’ve read of them but I wouldn’t say no to watching some more of his stuff based on Melancholia.

My Rating: 7.5/10


69 thoughts on “Melancholia (2011) Review

  1. This was my first Von Trier movie, and I loved it! Since then I’ve seen Antichrist and the first part of Nymphomaniac – they’re definitely more pretentious, less comprehensible, and pretty extreme, but there’s something fascinating about the nonsense contained in them! Melancholia seems like a nice starter for his movies at any rate.

    • Yeah – I wasn’t expecting to like this one but I really did. 🙂 I have a feeling the rest won’t be for me, though… I may watch the Nymphomaniacs but I’ll be skipping Antichrist! I may watch some of his older stuff. Maybe Dogville.

  2. Good stuff as ever!

    I’ve not seen Von Trier’s earlier works so I only came to know him via “Anti-Christ” when all the hoo-hah about the explicit content was a big issue. I found with that, this film and “Nymphomania” (all part of a loose “Depression” trilogy) were quite the experience where I didn’t honestly know if I actually enjoyed them or not.

    I know I got something from them and appreciated them as unique works of cinema but these aren’t films you necessarily “like” in the same way you might a comedy, drama or musical.

    Hope that makes sense. 🙂

    • That makes perfect sense! 🙂 I feel that way about a lot of the more “artsy fartsy” movies – I appreciate them but don’t always necessarily “like” them. I did enjoy Melancholia but have a feeling I wouldn’t like a lot of his other stuff. I know I wouldn’t like Antichrist – I’ll be skipping that one but I may watch the Nymphomaniacs & some of his older stuff now. 🙂

      • Actually the first ten minutes of Anti-Christ are possibly the most stunning and moving set of images I’ve ever seen. The syncopation between the music and the slow motion black and white visuals tell and aching tragic story in such a gorgeous and evocative manner, it is so simple it is stupid but deeply affecting.

        But yes, the rest of the film is very dark indeed. I think “Nymphomanic” was my favourite of the trilogy and not just because it is all about sex either! 😉

      • Hmm. Maybe I’ll watch ONLY the first ten minutes of Antichrist! Wait… Nymphomaniac is about sex?!?! 😉 lol. I may watch those someday – it’s just such a big time commitment! :-/

      • Nymphomaniac is split into two films and while it may total 4 1/2 hours the time really flies by. And if you FFWD through all the sex it will go by even quicker! 😉 😛

  3. I skipped this one because I seriously HATED Antichrist. I still don’t think I’ll watch Melancholia. I feel like if I met Lars Von Trier in real life, I’d punch him in the face.

    Your review is great, though!

    • Lol. Thanks! Even though I’ve not convinced you to watch this… 😉 Antichrist sounds AWFUL – I’ll never be watching that one. Dunst is actually really good in this, though. I’d never ever call her a favorite actress of mine but I think she’s been really good in a couple of her more serious roles.

  4. I thought this movie was ok – the beginning and the end were fantastic but there was WAY TOO MUCH shaky cam for me. Nice post, Wanker!

  5. I’ve never seen any other Lars Von Trier movies. I loved this movie. Thought it was beautiful. Have you ever seen Another Earth?

    • It really was beautiful. I’m glad THIS is the von Trier movie I chose to watch – don’t think I’d like most his other stuff. YES! That’s funny… I didn’t think of Another Earth while watching this but can totally see the similarities! I really liked Another Earth a lot as well. 🙂

  6. I haven’t seen this one, but I kind of like Lars, so I’ll give it a try one day. I’ve liked the two other films of his that I’ve seen: Dogville is amazing, really interesting and Nymphomaniac is pretty good overall, but it has its strange moments. Great review by the way!

    • Thanks! 🙂 This one is definitely worth a try if you’ve liked some of his other stuff. No one seems to “hate” this one, anyway, like they do some of his other films. I’m curious about Dogville – I may check that one out next. 🙂

    • Ohh – I’d love to know your thoughts! I wasn’t sure what others would have to say about it. I’m surprised that everyone has been very positive about it. I think it’s probably a far “easier” watch than some of his other films. I’ll check out the Nymphomaniacs at some point… It’s just a big time commitment! 🙂

  7. I loved this movie. I found Kirsten Dunst surprisingly good. She did the best portrayal of depression I have ever seen. After I saw the film I googled her and found, as I expected I would, that she herself had been depressed (enough to spend time in a hospital).
    That image you have at the end of this post is a great visual representation of what depression can feel like. Like walking through thick mud. Like walking away from a huge elastic band. Struggle struggle struggle.
    I have to say this: depression knows no socio-economic bounds. Privilege and beauty are no protection against depression. ANYONE can be depressed.
    Lars Von Trier fascinates me no end, though I can’t say I like all his work. I bought that tv series too and, oh dear, expensive and not very good at all.
    I also have a problem with the fact that women in his films nearly always come to some terrible end. However, I continue to watch whatever he comes up with. I like and respect his intensity and his in-your-face-ness.

    • I wasn’t sure what people would have to say about this movie but I’m glad to see that everyone really seems to have liked it! I agree that Dunst was great in this. I think she sometimes doesn’t get the credit she deserves – probably because she started acting when so young. I know I still kind of see her as a young girl. Creativity often seems to go with depression as well – von Trier himself suffered from it (or so I read – it’s why he made these films). I can understand how it can affect anyone but think some people who don’t understand that could get frustrated while watching this movie. Oh no – Riget was a waste of my money, then?? Lol. Damn. It sounded so good! Suppose I better still try to watch it sometime. 😉 Yeah – I’ll definitely check out some more of his work after watching this one but I KNOW I won’t “like” all of it. But I appreciate the artistic nature of what I’ve seen so far.

  8. Good review – can’t believe this is still on my “to watch” list; I thought it sounded interesting when it came out, but I just haven’t got round to it!

    I see someone else already recommended Dogville, but I’ll second it. It sounds like it’d be awful (three hours in a black room with lines on the floor instead of sets, wtf?!), but I found it gripping and the whole “lack of sets” thing kinda worked.

    • Well, I recommend it as you’ve liked at least one of his other films. Hmm… I didn’t really know much about Dogville but you have me even more intrigued now. That’s the one I think I’d like to watch next of his stuff. 🙂

  9. I thought Melancholia was brilliant and extremely weird, but still brilliant. I love the first part as well, but the opening, I think, was my favorite part. Great review 🙂

  10. Nice review, lady! I don’t know why, but I’ve wondered about this one for awhile now. It totally does not seem like my thing, yet I still find myself curious. I blame the presence of Alexander Skarsgard. Bahaha.

    • I don’t think I really know him from anything but he was a cutie in this. 🙂 This is a weird one, though – would be curious to know what you made of it but, yeah, I don’t think it would be your kind of thing!

      • I fell in love with him because of True Blood. His character has all kinds of sass. Also, you get to see a whooooole lot of him. 😉 Maybe I’ll give it a whirl!

  11. Mutant, you are a legend “Melancholia is pretentious and artsy fartsy and full of rich wankers with their first world problems…”. Yes. And this is why couldn’t bare it. I need to come back here and see what other excellent stuff you’ve been up to.

  12. Lars von Trier I find to be a fascinating filmmaker, of for no other reason than how polarizing he is. I haven’t seen Melancholia but I have managed to make it through Nymphomaniac Part 1. That was actually a part of my list of “epic” films from last year and I never completed it!!! Gah!

    I’m glad you give this one a thumbs up though, I’ve not been bothered to look up Melancholia anywhere so it’s nice to see it reviewed.

    • Well, I’ll attempt the Nymphomaniac films at some point but I’m in no hurry. Can’t have been too great if you have yet to bother with the second part??? 🙂 Melancholia is worth a watch if you like what you’ve seen of his stuff so far. I assume. As I’ve not seen much myself! But it sounds like Melancholia has a lot more fans than a lot of his other stuff does. 🙂

  13. Great review, and I am glad to see that you enjoyed it. I keep meaning to check this out. One of these days I will actually get to it. One day.

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