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Generally favorable reviews- based on 302 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 42 out of 302

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  1. Nov 12, 2011
    Weird Weird Weird. Wonderful Wonderful Wonderful. It all begins to make sense towards the end so all the questions and confusion of the beginning makes sense. If you are patient enough and curious enough you will be greatly rewarded. Make time for the movie. Understand that it will be great. You only get to see such a movie maybe only once a decade.
  2. Nov 11, 2011
    Beautifully depressing, killed me in every possible way. I was touched by its sadness. Two unbelievable performances, Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg were incredible.
  3. Nov 12, 2011
    An author writes what he knows. This definitely rings true for writer/director Lars von Trier, whose new film Melancholia deals with the personal issue of depression.
    While it is widely known that Von Trier has suffered from depression, Melancholia doesn't exploit the disturbing nature of the condition but rather presents us with a fascinating observation of how someone suffering from it
    faces the end of the world.
    The film opens with quite possibly the most beautiful and aesthetically pleasing sequence of the year. For the first seven minutes of the film, all that is shown are highly stylized images of characters juxtaposed with the cosmos moving in slow motion. These glorious shots are accompanied by the operatic music of the famous composer Richard Wagner. The montage ends with a shot of the collision of Earth and a massive planet. While the thought of the end of the world is terrifying, Von Trier is somehow able to render it beautiful.
    After we watch the annihilation of Earth, the film splits into two parts, the first part titled "Justine." Justine (Kirsten Dunst) is a beautiful bride en route to her wedding reception with her new husband, Michael (Alexander Skarsgård). The reception, to which they are wildly late, is being held in the castle owned by Justine's sister and her husband. The couple appears happy, yet Justine is far from it. It takes everything to force a smile.
    Justine has been struggling with depression for a long time, and she hoped finally getting married to Michael would alleviate her problems. How anyone could be depressed when tying the knot with Alexander Skarsgård will probably remain a mystery to the women of the world, but Dunst's effortless performance makes Justine a realistic and tangible character.
    Justine's slow downward spiral on her wedding night is painful to watch, but entirely absorbing. At the end of part one, she notices a planet in the horizon that doesn't seem to belong there.
    Part two of the movie is called "Claire," after Justine's sister, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg. It's revealed that what Justine saw on her wedding night is a massive rogue planet named "Melancholia." Claire fears that the planet is destined to collide with Earth, but her husband John (Kiefer Sutherland) assures her otherwise.
    As Claire struggles to deal with the possible end of the world, she must also care for Justine. Since her wedding night, Justine's depression has worsened to the point that she can barely eat, walk or talk.
    Through situational irony, the audience knows the fate of their world, yet it is still fascinating to watch these characters cope. In fact, Von Trier stated that he wanted to show the destruction of Earth at the start, so audiences would focus on the characters instead of their ultimate fate.
    With its stunning visuals, impressive acting and wonderful music, Melancholia is one of the best films of the year.
  4. Nov 13, 2011
    This is a mesmerizing, raw, beautiful, damaging look at life just before death and the way different people accept their fate. It's not just your usual what if. Its long, unnerving but consistently sooo cinematic. Brilliance abounds for those who actually have an understanding and appreciation for the ART of filmmaking and are able to let themselves fall in and feel the impact of the emotionally charged performances of Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainesbourg, and briefly John Hurt and Charlotte Rampling. If you have a movie lover's soul you will know after seeing this movie because you wont be able to get it out of your head, its that effecting!!! Expand
  5. Jan 16, 2012
    This is the best film I saw all year, and I go to the movies a lot. The first hour of the film (the wedding reception) is uncomfortable and even irritating to sit through. This is purposeful by the filmmaker. He even uses the "ever moving camera" technique that I wish filmmakers would stop using once and for all. I should not have to take a motion sick pill before going to a movie. We find out in the second half of the film, however, when it turns into a Science Fiction movie, why Justine (Kirsten Dunst) had such erratic behavior at her reception. The second half of the film is simply mesmerizing. Atmospheric, beautiful, scary, suspense building. Great visuals throughout the film - you will think about what you saw long after the film ends. Dunst is great in this film, but Charlotte Gainsbourg who plays her sister is equally wonderful. This film may not be mainstream enough to win awards at Oscar time, but it's not to be missed. I could write more about this great film, but I don't want to give anything away. Expand
  6. Dec 22, 2011
    for 2 hours I really felt like the world was going to end. I have never been so fully enveloped by a movie before. Whatever this film may be, depressing, disturbing, emotional, beautiful, I'm glad that I watched it, and feel somehow changed by it.
  7. Dec 30, 2011
    To me, Melancholia was like having a perfect slow cooked meal in great company --- that one enjoys while having but later on remembers with an even more delicious memory. It is beautifully filmed, slow, simmering, thought-provoking (especially after it is over). I rated it as my 8th best film of 2011, but as time went by it climbed to # 4. It is hard to explain its beauty and depth. I still think of it often and plan to see it again. Expand
  8. Dec 3, 2011
    While being an extremely slow and long film, Melancholia is an extremely effective film as well. The basic premise is that a planet is colliding with Earth, and the events preceding the collision are portrayed through the disturbed lives of two sisters, played by Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Both performances are nothing less than spectacular. They have a very controlled quality to themselves, very reminiscent of Nicole Kidman in "Rabbit Hole" or Annette Bening in "The Kids are All Right." The supporting cast is also rather good, especially the bitterness-filled mother of the two sisters, as is Gainsbourgh's husband, played by Keifer Sutherland. Visually, the film is stunningly beautiful, with interesting, beautiful cinematography. The score is perfectly appropriate to the apocalyptic doom-feel of the film. What is truly remarkable, though, is the way that von Trier lays out the idea of how the end of the world, or just death for that matter, can be truly beautiful and something to embrace and (ironically) "live to the fullest," if the time is right. The psychological switch that happens between the two sisters is interesting, but remains ultimately within their characters' inner psyche, without actually diverging too far from the first part of the film. Kirsten Dunst gives an excellent portrayal of depression and the realisation of imminent death, and its acceptance in a rather calm, rational manner. Charlotte Gainsbourg, on the other hand, shows the attempt to cover the inner restlessness, fear and hopelessness with the veneer of rationality, but ultimately failing. As the end of the world approaches, Dunst is the one that keeps her head high, looks straight death in the eye, while Gainsbourg fidgets around missing the ultimate beauty of her death, and in association, her own life. Expand
  9. Jan 9, 2012
    A truly beautiful concoction from the ever-unstable mind of von Trier. The first five or so minutesof the movie say it all. Shot in exceptional light and scenery, Richard Wagner's prelude to Tristan und Isolde plays as characters flee, things burn, and Justine (Kirsten Dunst) seems as calm as ever. Very slow, and very inspiring. Unfortunately, the movie doesn't speed up any faster, as we have to bear through the worst wedding reception you may ever witness, leading to Justine's scandalous behavior on the golf course, her unemployment, and her immediate divorce. As Melancholia, the death-bearing planet, approaches, so too does Justine and her sister Claire's (Charlotte Gainsbourg) personalities grow, and finally, in a frightening, emotion-evoking, but tear-lacking ending, everyone incinerates at the approach of Melancholia. This may seem depressing, but to be honest, Justine was probably more depressing than anything else in the movie. And I mean that in a good way. Dunst definitely deserves her award at the Cannes Film Festival. This is definitely a movie worth watching. Warning, though; there is nudity. Expand
  10. Nov 13, 2011
    The movie begins with the wedding party of Justine(Kirsten Dunst)and Michael(Alexander Skarsgard)arranged by her sister Claire(Charlotte Gainsbourg).But what could have been a perfect party becomes an absurd evening due to the increasing depression symptoms of Justine.Meanwhile a planet threatens to collide into the earth. Although this movie is surely the most accessible among the movies by Von Trier,some audiences will find it boring and meaningless due to the slowly pace of the movie and its controversial subject.But I think this is one of the best movies of the year with remarkable performances and a beautiful story of characters that makes you feel every inner turmoil.It's not a predictable portrait of emotions that are often bad portrayed in other movies of mental illness and fear.So if you expect dynamic don't watch it.Von Trier is a master and I am sorry for his bad reputation of egomaniac and daring director of movies made only for narrow audience.But nobody can deny that he is one of the most original and fascinating director out there."Melancholia" is a stunning and captivating movie,impossible to forget.I dare to say it's art because there are some poetical moments and moving scenes that are overwhelming.It's almost perfect.The Wagner music elevate this powerful experience.This movie is occasionally too meaningful to be caught by some people who will find it difficult but unique.The acting is absolutely great.Kirsten Dunst is terrific in her complex role.She proved she is an A-level young actress and her win at the last Cannes film festival is completely deserved.An Oscar nomination would be a must for the Academy although I fear that they will snub her in favor of more stereotyped performances and due to the lack of a big studio behind it.Charlotte Gainsbourg is amazing as well even if her role is less showy.The supporting cast(Kiefer Sutherland,Charlotte Rampling,John Hurt and Stellan Skarsgard)is equally great.My vote of the movie is 8/10. Expand
  11. Nov 12, 2011
    one word: beautiful. depressing, convulsive but penetrative. Love Dunst, Gainsbourg and Trier is really a great director. Melancholia is a state of mind.
  12. Mar 18, 2012
    Melancholia may very well be the greatest story about depression ever committed to film. It's profoundly moving, complex and well-performed. Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Kiefer Sutherland make for a very impressive cast, with Dunst delivering the performance of her career. Who'd have thought an intimate analysis of the effects of crippling depression would effectively mesh with a disaster movie? Ony such an unconventional director as Lars von Trier would even consider such a combination. A planet colliding with the Earth and humanity's ultimate doom makes for a great metaphor for crippling depression - feeling like the whole world is baring down on you, and that you're utterly isolated and helpless. It's a surprisingly effective thematic juxtaposition, that makes for an extremely intelligent and beautiful overall filmic experience. The film is equal parts epic and intimate, blockbuster and and arthouse, melodrama and realism. You have some great scenes if extreme contrast - the strikingly honest, observant scenes where Justine (Dunst) and her condition clash with the understanding and the patience of her wedding guests, and the utterly terrifying apocalyptic scenes of the film's finale where humanity faces its inevitable and utter destruction. The use of Wagner's layered, evocative music and the sparing but effective use of dazzling special effects also help to make the film utterly memorable. In the end, the tragedy of Melancholia is not its undeniably pessimistic ending, or the way in which it approaches its extremely dark subject matter, but the lack of recognition it will receive due to von Trier's Cannes outburst. Had he kept his thoughts to himself, the film would undoubtedly have been the runaway awards-winner of 2011. It should have been an instant classic, a film that will influence many generations to come, but what will be remembered is the director's misjudged and undeniably insensitive jokes about the Holocaust and Nazi affiliations. This is a real shame, because as a viewing experience, Melancholia will stay with you long after the film reaches its climax - it's an emotional, mesmerising, extremely well-written and utterly human experience. Expand
  13. Nov 30, 2011
    This movie is made for those who really enjoy watching a movie, is slow and heavy in many ways but shows you perfectly two different kinds of melancholia, really good photography work and great music, the story well is difficult to explain but all that i can say is that things happen when you don't expect to
  14. Nov 16, 2011
    It's pretty impressive that Lars Von Trier always manages to make movies that are always controversial among both critics and the audience. Melancholia is certainly one of them. We see death as a main topic here; depression, dysfunctional families, wedding... Some might say it is dark, long and slow. And in fact they are right. However, weirdly this makes you feel every damn emotion it the picture, you almost feel like you're a part of the movie. That's why Melancholia is a success for the director. With is multi dimensional script, great acting and moving visuals (the opening scene) it is one of the best movies of the year. Expand
  15. Nov 25, 2011
    What a wonderfully bleak movie by Lars Von Trier. After his last feature Anti-Christ, which was underwhelming to say the least, he returns with a fighting punch with Melancholia, a "disaster" movie directed exactly how we expect a Lars Von Trier film to be - a beautifully rendered art film. The movie is written in two parts, part one titles "Justine" and the second titles "Claire". Both titles refer to the characters in the film, one played by Kirsten Dunst and the other Charlotte Gainsbourg. Both actresses are outstanding. A lot of praise has been given to Kirsten Dunst who won best actress at this years Cannes film festival, the role almost seems like a breakout role for the already well known actress, but it's Charlotte Gainsbourg who I believe gave the strongest performance, adding that extra heart and emotion to the film, and should also be strongly considered for award recognition this winter. The movie ties it's two parts perfectly, making a strong metaphor for unity. Two families brought together while two planets are about to collide. Melancholia is one the most depressing and beautiful films of the year. The ending will leave you gasping in shock and sadness and will remain engraved in your mind for days to come. Expand
  16. Jan 16, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Happy New Year Indeed

    It's the holiday season again, and with it comes the usual slate of talking-animal Christmas movies and lame rom-coms set on New Year's Eve. I feel it's my duty to counterbalance this overt cheerfulness with just a little bit of morbidity. So, to open 2012, I'm going with my favourite film of last year bar none: Lars von Trier's Melancholia, a film about a newlywed bride's severe depression and crumbling relationship with her caretaker sister. Sounds none too festive, right? It gets better. The story is set during the last days on Earth, before a foreign planet collides with ours and all life is obliterated forever. Yeah.

    Before anyone becomes too concerned with the end of the world, though, we are treated to Justine's (Kirsten Dunst) wedding, an extravagant affair paid for by her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and Claire's husband John (Kiefer Sutherland). After everything that could go wrong does go wrong during the evening, Justine does not leave the party with her new husband (Alexander Skarsgard), but stays at Claire's castle where the reception took place. The next day, as John and son Leo (Cameron Spurr) become increasingly giddy at the chance for a firsthand glimpse of the planet expected to simply 'pass us by', Claire's anxiety peaks and Justine's depression consumes her.

    The film exists in two distinct parts: one covering the wedding night, and the other the aftermath. Surprisingly, Part One makes for such a well crafted, engaging story that the whole 'world is ending' angle almost seems like an unnecessary gimmick. It is an intriguing, intimate look into the mind-numbing array of family dynamics at play during what should be Justine's special night. Much of its brilliance must be credited to a tight script and, subsequently, the characterisation of the act's central figure. Rather than being lazily written as a 'woe-is-me' sad sack that finds no joy in the night's proceedings, Justine draws audience sympathy nice and early through her efforts to make the best of things despite the social disaster unravelling around her. One gets the impression that she does have a genuine love for some people, but the vexing truth is that, in spite of the seemingly significant ramifications of this night, things are about to get far more sinister. We know this because von Trier leaves the viewer in no doubt as to how this film will end. The opening act is an incredible collection of surreal scenes depicting the Earth's destruction, set to the chilling prelude to opera Tristan und Isolde. So when Claire's fears are temporarily relieved towards the end of the film, it feels devilishly cruel to lead on this fearful individual when the audience is already aware of what is still to come. Put simply, it could be said that Part One is the cinematic masterclass, with heavy emphasis being placed on all things that make a quality film (beautiful imagery, well-structured dialogue and purposeful character interaction) while Part Two is the thematically charged intellectual piece, where the audience is not spoon-fed, but rather challenged to find personal meaning in the events unfolding on screen.

    Certainly, by the time the second half comes around, the security blanket separating caged fiction from terrifying reality has well and truly been removed. In the morning after the wedding, the world has become a much darker place, in both a literal and metaphysical sense. Justine's condition has degraded from a person battling with flashes of doom, to one that has become sedate and eerily calm in her total submission to the illness. In contrast, Claire, who has lived a balanced, comfortable life up until this point according to universal standards (big house, married, young son, et al), and who therefore has so much more to live for, refuses to accept the inevitable. It is through this polarising pair of characters that Melancholia offers the foundation of many different interpretations regarding the film's true meaning. Personally, it appears to be not only an exposition of universal perception and understanding one's significance in the context of all things, but also an assertion of how human beings might act in times of inescapable disaster. It begs the question: 'How do you think you would react in this situation?' But perhaps more importantly: 'How would you like to react?' This notion is hammered home when, in the film's heart-pounding and visually spectacular closing moments, the seemingly soulless Justine still finds time for one last act of utterly selfless heroism, even in the face of certain death.

    *There's nothing I love more than a bit of feedback, good or bad. So drop me a line on and let me know what you thought of my review.*
  17. Feb 27, 2012
    As with all of Von Trier's work saying his films are an acquired taste is rather an understatement. However, I disagree with the public conception that his films are wholly pretentious and without meaning, because more often than not they are full of meaning. Having followed Trier's career vaguely with interest other recent years, his most interesting films to note have been the muddling Dancer In The Dark and the unsettling Anti-Christ. Neither film was awful, yet Von Trier persists- as he does here- to enforce upon the viewer a unpleasing pacing for all of his films. Melancholia is no different. It's build up in following the disaster of Dunst's wedding merely pads the films with material and not a lot of plot. However, this can be overlooked if we view what the feature actually is inherently: a character piece. Fans of Anti-Christ will be with mixed views about this feature, as it resonates in similar themes and motifs, but that is not to say that in viewing Anti-Christ, then the beauty of Melancholia will be damaged somehow. Ultimately, Gainsbourg and Dunst would have been worthy candidates for Oscar nominations, but still this is not mainstream circuit material. The cinematography is indisputably incredible, as is this features score, but what shines best with this feature, even with its mass of flaws (and there are many) is that what is being conveyed here- though the metaphor is rather heavy-handed- works incredibly well. As a piece of science-fiction drama comparisons can be made to The Fountain, but whilst that film spends much of its time jumping over three timelines, there is enough here in continuity and anguish to deliver an emotional impact that is just as meaningful. Between this and Drive, I would have to say Melancholia edges it slightly due to the formers over-simplistic, though beautifully told tale, whilst Melancholia yearns to be revisited, making it in my eyes the best film of the year. Expand
  18. Sep 2, 2012
    This film is not going to be for everyone, but I loved it. From a crazy wedding party where hardly anything goes right, to the potential coming of the end of the world, it hooked and shook me like very few films have in recent years. It deals with the relationship of two sisters, played by Kirsten Dunst, in a career best performance, and Charlotte Gainsbourg who is also terrific. Kiefer Sutherland is also very good as the husband of the latter. It's disturbing, beautiful, and emotionally resonant. It's not slow, but well paced. A Von Trier film will always be a bit polarizing. Personally I really disliked his previous film Antichrist, but I loved this. Expand
  19. Apr 15, 2012
    beautiful movie. but i understand why people are giving such low rating, because it is just so slow (like glacially slow). but if you look past the tempo you'll see the amazing acting by Kirsten Dunst and the beautiful cinematography. in the end the movie is just a giant metaphor for depression, just when you think it's gone it comes back and hits you harder than before. it's the kind of movie that stays with you long after seeing it, you'll have different theories to why things happened the way they did and each time you think about it you'll come up with different explanations. overall amazing movie, 9.9/10. Expand
  20. Mar 25, 2012
    I'm reviewing this because I can't get it out of my head. There's something so haunting about an hour of "what is the point of this (even though it's kinda interesting)", to the next hour of overwhelmingly powerful unrelated intensity. I gotta see this again.
  21. Mar 15, 2012
    An amazing movie! I found the film, to be very real. It felt like a documentry. As I watched the 2nd act of the movie, it felt like watching the characters final moments. The movie was slow, but yet intresting. I had a feeling of being there. Excellent!
  22. Jun 3, 2012
    I don't know how to not give it a 10, instantly became one of my favorite films. This movie is bleak and beautiful at the same time, made almost entirely of detestable characters. It still buggles me how von Trier made all these elements work - but he did. Dunst is truly amazing on this one.
  23. Jul 17, 2014
    Melancholia is one of the most unique films I've ever seen. The acting, the emotion, the characters, the depth, the symbolism, the art style, the score, etc. Almost every element of this film is executed to perfection and sucks you into the events taking place. The only real negative was the camera work. The shaky-cam felt unnecessary and at times took away from the viewing experience, breaking the immersion of the movie. Other than that, this was simply a work of art that is tough to explain in words. I am certain that most people won't be able to become absorbed into the film. It's a strange movie and incredibly slow moving. Honestly, 75% of people will probably quit watching before the intro, which was so long it makes James Bond intros feel brief. Nonetheless, if you can sit through the various quirks, especially early on, you'll become intrigued and anxiously await the film's conclusion. Lars von Trier truly does a brilliant job. Expand
  24. Aug 28, 2012
    An insightful psychological study under interesting conditions, the ending blew me away. The soundtrack is a huge part of the experience, and the ending leaves a lasting impression that was incredible from the front rows of a small theater. I got chills just now thinking about it. In a way, the whole study is a build-up to the last minute.
  25. Jan 31, 2012
    Really, my favorite movie of all time. A masterpiece of the "crazy" Lars Von Trier... The soundtrack completely gave the movie another dimension (if I count the dimensions of the movie I would say: 6D)! This movie has only one big problem: you will whether love it or hate it! I, as you already know, LOVED IT! So, I can't recommend because there is a 50% chance you won't like it.
  26. Feb 11, 2012

    GIVE IT A TRY IF... You have survived at least one of von Trierâ
  27. Mar 6, 2012
    Buena pelicula, buenas actuaciones, lars es un gran director y sabe colocar al espectador ene la atmosfera de la pelicula, recomendada para cualquier tipo de espectador, niños, adultos.
    El final tragico y doloros no podia ser mejor.
  28. Mar 19, 2012
    Who would have thought that a movie about the end of the world could be so beautiful. This movie is beautifully shot and well written. And Kirsten Dunst delivered a performance that deserved Oscar recognition. Lars von Trier has created one of the best films of the year with this.
  29. Mar 24, 2012
    I was excited to see this, what an utter disappointment. Tedious ,unbearably void of substance, and unbelievable characters are the highlights of this film. While I can see where the director was going with this, he fell quite a bit short.
  30. Apr 9, 2012
    Brilliant. A Lars von Trier masterpiece. You will never be the same after experiencing Melancholia. This is a once in a decade film, an instant classic.
  31. May 9, 2013
    it's been a year since i first watched MELANCHOLIA. it is still one of the greatest films i've ever seen. kirsten dunst is as beautifully magnificent. the setting and cinematography still astonish. my favorite apocalyptic film of all time.

Generally favorable reviews - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 40
  2. Negative: 2 out of 40
  1. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Feb 17, 2012
    This is not a feel-good movie. This is the frigid, hard-to-embrace cinematic opposite of a feel-good movie, in fact -- all wrapped in one long, dark metaphor for depression.
  2. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Dec 1, 2011
    The experience of psychological depression has been described with a variety of metaphors. William Styron called it "darkness visible," and Winston Churchill euphemized his bouts as "the black dog." In typically grandiose fashion, though, Lars von Trier tops them all.
  3. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Dec 1, 2011
    Melancholia is an intense, exhausting experience. That may not sound appealing, and for some, it won't be. But nor should it be off-putting. Proceed with caution, perhaps. But proceed nevertheless.