(M) Madman DVD/BD

A giant planet called “Melancholia” (an aptly named symbol of doom if there ever was one) has been hiding behind the sun and is now on a collision course towards earth.

“What star is that?” asks Justine (Kirsten Dunst) on her wedding night.

The question holds far more weight than she could possibly realise.

Flash forward a few hours later and her marriage is already over. Her fragile emotional state reaches an all-time low but her sister, Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), is there to pick up the pieces.

Kirsten Dunst was awarded best actress for this performance at Cannes Film Festival.

If you or someone you know has suffered from depression then her character will strongly resonate with you. The inexplicable frustration and hopelessness for the depressed and for those who love them are captured to perfection.

Melancholia is split into two parts, the first named Claire and the second Justine.

A form of denial plagues each sister. Justine, a “dreamer”, can’t deal with ordinary reality, while the restrained Claire cannot face the prospect of the impending disaster.

Lars Von Trier, the controversial writer/director, opens the film with ten minutes of beautiful, strange and terrifying images of the world ending upon Melancholia’s arrival and impact.

This is a unique, thoughtful film that will certainly not appeal to everyone. In fact, many will not like it.

Achingly beautiful and sad all at once, there is honesty to its sadness, however bleak and devoid of hope that honesty may be.

Perhaps Justine echoes Von Trier’s views when she says, “Life is only on Earth … and not for long.”

Yes, without belief in God or an afterlife, things can become matter of fact very quickly. So, then, what is the ultimate meaning?

Perhaps there is none. But it’s breathtaking to watch, all the same.

Jasmine Edwards


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