The end of the world—and the collapse of the spirit—has scarcely been depicted as beautifully and wrenchingly as in Melancholia. The title refers both to a destructive planet “that has been hiding behind the sun” and the crippling depression of new bride Justine (a revelatory Kirsten Dunst, winner of the Best Actress award at Cannes that year), whose mental illness is so severe that she drives away her groom during their disastrous wedding reception. As the extinction of the planet looms ever larger, Justine is desperately tended to by her sister, Claire, an equally magnificent Charlotte Gainsbourg. Having gone to extremes with von Trier in Antichrist, Gainsbourg once again descends into the atmosphere of despair and becomes gripped by her anxiety over the world’s impending doomsday, making the film’s final otherworldly moments ache with forlornness. An NYFF49 selection.
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