Melancholia ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Von Trier apparently got the idea for this film while battling depression and he definitely nails that feeling with the character of Justine. During the first half of the film, the wedding, her own wedding, the happiest day of their lives for most people, she forces out toothy grins and fakes happiness ("I smile, and I smile, and I smile") but in the end can't fake it any longer. She leaves her wedding to put her nephew to bed, to take a bath, to ride a golf cart so she can see the blushing sky. People beg her to be grateful and to enjoy her special day ("You better be goddamn happy.") and question why she's depressed. But Von Trier knows there isn't a simple explanation, he knows that it's not like turning a light bulb on or off. There's no special thing anyone can say and there's no specific reason to explain why. Everyone's worried - about embarrassment, about money, about lack of time - but not about Justine of course. At this point she's become a nuisance. The supposed brightest day of her life ends with heaps of titular melancholy, as the invitees trudge home, silently judging Justine. Yet, what they don't know is that they'll all want to be in her shoes in just a few days time, when she'll be calmer than anyone else during a time of grave stress. People suffering from depression often react to trauma and tragedy very calmly, so when the planet Melancholia begins hurtling towards earth, Justine continues to sport the same look she had when eating breakfast a few days prior. While her sister Claire panics, desperate for some sort of profound, happy-families gathering before the impending doom, and Claire's husband - the one who was so enamored with the planet and the solar system - kills himself out of fear, Justine is able to take everything in stride, bring everyone down to her level of acceptance and give Claire the departure she was hoping for. Melancholia is often a beautiful film to look at, ironic considering the bleak themes associated with it, but Von Trier as usual knows how to find beauty in even the darkest of corners.

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