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Generally favorable reviews - based on 40 Critics What's this?

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7.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 310 Ratings

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  • Summary: In this beautiful movie about the end of the world, Justine and Michael are celebrating their marriage at a sumptuous party in the home of her sister Claire, and brother-in-law John. Despite Claire's best efforts, the wedding is a fiasco, with family tensions mounting and relationshipsIn this beautiful movie about the end of the world, Justine and Michael are celebrating their marriage at a sumptuous party in the home of her sister Claire, and brother-in-law John. Despite Claire's best efforts, the wedding is a fiasco, with family tensions mounting and relationships fraying. Meanwhile, a planet called Melancholia is heading directly towards Earth. (Magnolia Pictures) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 40
  2. Negative: 2 out of 40
  1. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Nov 17, 2011
    100
    Leave it to von Trier to conceive an intergalactic sci-fi metaphor for a psychological disorder – and then make it work so astonishingly well.
  2. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Oct 24, 2011
    100
    For all the tyrannical disdain he's shown other filmmakers over the years, von Trier once again demonstrates a mastery of classical technique, extracting incredibly strong performances from his cast while serving up a sturdy blend of fly-on-the-wall naturalism and jaw-dropping visual effects.
  3. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Nov 10, 2011
    90
    Its true subject is melancholia as a spiritual state, a destroyer of happiness that emerges from its hiding place behind the sun, just like the menacing planet, then holds the heroine, Justine, in its unyielding grip and gives Ms. Dunst the unlikely occasion for a dazzling performance.
  4. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Nov 10, 2011
    80
    For stretches of the film, von Trieria is as welcome as Siberia. You must stay to the end for a potent payoff, when the tragic magic of the opening scenes is reasserted.
  5. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Nov 17, 2011
    75
    As von Trier's ultimate wish-fulfillment fantasy, Melancholia is a broodingly downbeat self-portrait but also the inspiring work of an artist of seemingly boundless imaginative power.
  6. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Nov 8, 2011
    63
    Melancholia represents von Trier at his best and worst. Visually and thematically, Melancholia is a rich motion picture, full of nuances. Unfortunately, in his pursuit of an artistic vision, von Trier has thrown logic, physics, and coherence out the window.
  7. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Nov 8, 2011
    0
    Melancholia is his latest pile of undiluted drivel, nauseatingly filmed by a wonky hand-held camera and featuring a crazy, mismatched ensemble headed by Kirsten Dunst, who won an acting award in Cannes last year for looking totally catatonic.

See all 40 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 62 out of 94
  2. Negative: 22 out of 94
  1. Nov 12, 2011
    10
    Weird Weird Weird. Wonderful Wonderful Wonderful. It all begins to make sense towards the end so all the questions and confusion of theWeird 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. Expand
  2. Apr 15, 2012
    10
    beautiful movie. but i understand why people are giving such low rating, because it is just so slow (like glacially slow). but if you lookbeautiful 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
  3. Dec 3, 2011
    9
    While being an extremely slow and long film, Melancholia is an extremely effective film as well. The basic premise is that a planet isWhile 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
  4. Nov 16, 2011
    7
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. An odd thing happened to me on my way out of the theater last night after seeing "Melancholia." Suddenly, the movie, which I'd been mixed at best about, began to seem like a terrific set of jokes, most of them slyly, cunningly visual. Suddenly, this art film about depression and the end of the world, with its upscale country-estate visuals and high-minded Wagnerian soundtrack, became lowdown laugh-out-loud funny. "And what was up, anyway, with that dress the bride's mother wore?" I asked my viewing companion. "Didn't it look more like a tie-dyed teeshirt?" Pretty soon we were both giggling and guffawing. "In fact, weren't all the dresses sort of tacky?" "Melancholia" begins with a gorgeous, expensive wedding party from hell, the lovely bride who's been functioning up until now in cheerful, productive denial collapsing into total depression in the midst of friends' and family's selfishness and bad behavior. Both her parents make horrible, hostile speeches; her boss (also the best man) fires her after she tells him what she really thinks of him; the cute, babyish groom goes home with his parents after she rejects him sexually. Every guest -- not to speak of the wedding planner -- has his or her moment of meanness, rudeness, or stupidity. But there's no sense that any of these characters have a shared history. Absent a believable social nexus, there can be no social satire: vintage Von Trier, the wedding scenes roll by as misjointed episodes of inappropriate behavior and jittery camera. Nor is anyone on screen the kind of upscale movie rich person you can have fun feeling superior to even as you enjoy looking at them. No one except the clueless groom even looks that good; the nut-case bride, Justine, becomes increasingly oppressed by a silly, puffed-up, unbecoming, and ever more crushed and wilting gown. For me the wedding was a long meandering frustration, much less fun than I kept expecting it to be. So I was glad (though not optimistic) when Part II -- shot much more serenely -- began. Some time has passed at the lush country estate (it belongs to Justine's sister Claire's rich husband). Justine's mental condition has continued to deteriorate; Claire's taking care of her. There are some intimate domestic scenes and lovely landscapes, sugesting that perhaps even an awful wedding isn't the end of the world. But wait, it IS the end of the world. A newly-discovered planet called Melancholia is making its way toward Earth. Scientists don't foresee a collision, just a fantastic cosmic show for amateur astronomers. But we who have seen the movie's opening montage know differently and so does Justine, whose depression has put her in tune with the big engines of destruction. Pretty soon, of course, everybody can do the math or simply observe the rogue planet looming larger, ever more gorgeously visible even during the day. Claire becomes as overwrought as I (and I'm guessing you) would be, while Justine begins to flourish. In a particularly stunning night scene with the Liebestod theme on the soundtrack, she reclines naked on a riverbank; bathed in Melancholia's deathly light, she's as open to ravishment by her own and everyone else's oncoming death as she was shut off from sex with her young husband. None of this is exactly profound, but it was effective and I enjoyed it. Neither Justine nor Claire is given any genuine depth of character or specificity of motivation (Justine's the crazy one, Claire's reasonably adjusted to what seems a more-or-less typically imperfect life, except with a lot more money). But in the face of imminent annihilation their words, actions, and expressions are freakishly recognizeable. I was particularly moved by Charlotte Gainsbourgh's Claire, clutching at her young son, making hysterical, futile attempts to escape to somewhere, do SOMETHING. While as for Justine's wilder side of the equation: my natural tendancy is to respond with annoyance, even to take offence, at any romanticization of death; my guess is that lots of depressives would be just as terrified by the prospect of the world coming to an end as the rest of us; and don't even get me started about Wagnerian mysticism. But for all that, I have to confess I found Big Oblivion as Von Trier delivers it in the final scenes to be big sublime fun, and terrific to look at. A nasty, narcissistic streak runs through it, of course: the adolescent fantasy of being in touch with big destructive forces, and of taking everybody less sensitive than you with you when you go. Von Trier knows this, I think. His two-sisters structure is a way of identifying with Justine but not entirely. The movie has it both ways and so did I. And so does anyone emerging safe and sound from the theater, the deferred humor from the wedding scene bursting forth to break the tension, sending you into gales of helpless laughter, after the apocalypse, later, out there on the staircase. Expand
  5. Nov 13, 2011
    6
    Rare movie did not understand the conecccion wedding with the rest frame of the movie, though was very good work, I felt I was seeing the treeRare movie did not understand the conecccion wedding with the rest frame of the movie, though was very good work, I felt I was seeing the tree of life 2 .... but the third part of the movie left me stunned, scared, wrapped in despair that he shared with Claire ... cheers for Dunst and Gainsbourg were fantastic, great. Expand
  6. BKM
    Apr 9, 2012
    4
    I'll say this about Melancholia: it's not like anything else I've ever seen--which is not necessarily a good thing. The film's depiction ofI'll say this about Melancholia: it's not like anything else I've ever seen--which is not necessarily a good thing. The film's depiction of depression feels alarmingly real as does its vision of the end of the world as we know it. But the the annoyingly tepid pace and startling pretentiousness of it all make you want to bludgeon yourself to death. Strictly a film for Von Trier devotees. Expand
  7. Dec 15, 2012
    0
    I have never before fast forwarded through the beginning of a movie, but five minutes of still images set to symphony music is just too much.I have never before fast forwarded through the beginning of a movie, but five minutes of still images set to symphony music is just too much. I'm writing this in the hopes of saving others from this terrible movie. It is unbearably slow, has nausea inducing handheld camera work, and a cast of unlikable characters. In the end we amused ourselves by making up lines for the characters while they stared at each other in gloomy silence. Expand

See all 94 User Reviews

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