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MELANCHOLIA: The Truth Only The Crazy Know

A newly-wed oscillating in her own depression  on the day of her wedding and an orbiting planet that spell doom to the rest of civilization are the forces that keep Melancholia riveting til the end. Melancholia will not convert non-fans of the controversial Danish director Lars Von Trier but rather makes it harder for fans to rank it among his greats, Dogville, The Idiots, Manderlay, Antichrist and so on. In what seem to be lookback at his Dogme days, Von Trier flickers in romanticism by his cinematic use of Wagner and indeed, burst into mega proportions.

The film is cut into two perspectives with each dedicated to sisters Justine and Claire played by Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg. The prologue before these chapters are slo-mo images that exaggerates different portions of the film, visually compelling eight minutes of Melancholia that act as harbingers of what the rest of the film will be like.

Justine drags herself to her wedding way which she describes as “having wolly thread pulled into my legs.” Kirsten Dunst in a star-making performance portrays a lead that is easy to feel disdain to and pity the next. Justine’s impossible fits of depression make the first half a dark comedy treat leading to dragging situations as I think the director tries to augment the lack of reverence evident from Justine’s parents toward her obvious emotional shakiness. I was torn whether I sympathize with her state or I feel for the groom Michael (Alexander Skarsgård) and Claire who organized the wedding hiring the “most expensive wedding planner in the world,” played by scene stealer Udo Kier. Justine’s impenetrability can be read as Von Trier’s intention from the beginning, not to portray depression in description but from the perspective of the one going through it, not diagnosed but rather a splatter of misses framed in a formal, bureaucratic set-up like a wedding.

(To be continued)

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