Hankok’s review published on Letterboxd:
Thought about making review "ohhh fuck yeah babey that's grade A depression right there" but watching this and listening to some music I loved when I was depressed at 16, (Paramore's self titled still holds up!) I felt inspired to actually write. TW Ahead: Suicide mention, depression
Depression has consumed two periods of my life. First at 16, then at 21. In hindsight, the time between the two was pretty plagued in melancholy as well, so it could be one Big depression with two particularly low points. First, I was subjected to living in dismal conditions: alcoholic parents, a bedbug infestation, no tv or internet, plus coming off of a bad breakup, all I could do was look forward to finally escaping to college, and ensuring I make it to a university away from home was my only priority. Now, the subject of this review, the second instance, came in my Junior year of college.
As the semesters went on, my grades dropped at a gradual rate, where now I had begun failing classes. I decided I would take a semester off, I had no plan to do what, I just no longer had the energy to go to class. It was too late in the semester, financial aid would bill me for thousands if I dropped at this point, so I decided I would stay enrolled, but not go to class. Where there was once an anxiety about missing an assignment or something in lecture was replaced by.... nothing? Everything was dull, numb. Nothing mattered to me anymore. I survived through the semester without going to a single class and passed two of my four classes. Luckily for me at the time, they were two of the easiest classes I had at college.
Winter break came and I was suddenly swollen with a desire to die. I had no family to go back to, my friends all felt disingenuous, there was nothing to keep my attention, all I had to look forward to was a New Years Eve get together with some friends back home. It kept me going. The party eventually came and I found myself more drunk than I'd ever been, eventually spiraling in bed messaging someone about how I longed to die, how nothing seemed to matter anymore. They said "that sounds like actual depression". I cried myself to sleep.
The next four days were a blur of nonstop suicidal thoughts. At no other time in my life have I experienced what I felt those four days. There's no words to explain what it was like, I can only say I'm so happy I did not hurt myself in any way those four days. The fifth day, I woke up, and took a walk in the cold. The cold felt nice. It was bitter and windy, probably about 15⁰ farenheit. I decided to go get coffee to warm up. And that I would do this every day. Somehow, I felt what must have been joy for the first time in who knows how long. I still don't know what happened. I sometimes worry I'm capable of slipping back into that state.
The last two years have been undoubtedly the best of my life, and I only see it going up from here. I feel so detached from the catatonic depression that once consumed me. It's like it was a whole different person. Even though now, with transition and all, I suppose I am becoming a different person in some sense, I make sure to remember that was me.
Melancholia is the best I've ever seen depression depicted on film. Doing things that don't make sense, a complete lack of any feeling, Kirsten Dunst as Justine embodies the experience so aptly. The planetary annihilation plot is the most extreme example of how trivial life feels under depression.
I could see this film being criticized for being so on the nose, Justine being the caricature of depression. But to me, I don't mind it because the representation is so true to my experience that I felt seen watching this. Like I was never actually alone back then.