“Melancholia” is two hours of the mundane sandwiched between some beautiful imagery. The premise of the film is that there was a strange new planet discovered called Melancholia, and the planet happens to be on a collision course with Earth. Such a unique, compelling idea could make for a compelling film. To be fair, this is not a film of science fiction, but of drama, but still. The film tends to explore the concept of melancholy as an emotion far more than it explores the planet that is named after it. This makes for a somewhat boring endeavor, especially when the film creeps toward(and eventually over) the two-hour mark.
Kirsten Dunst plays Justine, a woman that shows up extremely late to her own wedding reception. The day is creeping into the evening hours when she finally arrives, and it is at that point when she notices a star that usually isn’t quite so visible. Unbeknownst to everyone, it isn’t a star, but Melancholia.
Justine’s interactions at the reception hall hint that she may not be as happy as she appears on the surface. As the film progresses, Justine’s extreme unhappiness evolves, and the role becomes a challenge that Dunst handles quite well. The only thing that hurts the role is that Justine’s affliction is never defined. This isn’t always a necessity, but Justine seems to jump between crippling depression and sarcastic wisecracks, so it isn’t always easy to pinpoint where the character’s head is at.
The second part of the film spends a little more time with Justine’s sister Claire(Charlotte Gainsbourg). Claire and Justine don’t get along, but will that change since Melancholia is soon to hit? This reviewer can’t say, but rest assured that “Melancholia” will feature plenty of unhappy people. Perhaps the last shot of the film and the first ten minutes are the best, because nobody is talking. Which means nobody is complaining or lamenting. Sometimes, a film is a means of escape, but not everyone necessarily wants to escape to a world of miserable individuals. That is, unless characters have a compelling story to tell. Unfortunately, nobody in “Melancholia” seems able to do that.
“Melancholia” is available to rent via video on demand now. Amazon has the Blu-Ray/DVD release date listed as March 2012.