Box art for Melancholia


  • Rated NR

independent, special interest

Kirsten Dunst plays a bride whose lavish wedding descends into chaos as a new planet called Melancholia gets dangerously close to Earth. Kiefer Sutherland, Alexander Skarsgard and John Hurt also star.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 17
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
4 out of 5
Positive messages
1 out of 5
Positive role models
1 out of 5
5 out of 5
2 out of 5

Emotionally brutal end-of-the-world drama.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this drama about the end of the world from controversial Danish director Lars von Trier is emotionally overwhelming and very depressing, with a strong sense of mortal terror. Most of the movie's conflicts consist of arguing and yelling, but the impending destruction of the entire world is very intense. The other big issue is sexuality, with the main character (played by Kirsten Dunst) appearing fully naked in more than one scene and having sex with a younger man (not her husband) on her wedding day. Language includes infrequent use of "f--k" and "s--t," and characters occasionally drink alcohol, mostly at a wedding.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about how the movie addresses the idea of the end of the world. How does the movie evoke terror and dread? How does it compare to other movies' take on the topic?
  • What makes the main character so depressed? How does she deal with her problem? What are some other ways she could deal with it?
  • Why does Justine use sex and nudity to deal with her depression?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 21
    see all Melancholia reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: The most composed and beautiful and conspicuously adult film of von Trier's] career...

- Andrew O'Hehir,, Friday, November 11, 2011

Fresh: A masterwork of grandeur, millennial angst and high romantic style, "Melancholia" takes themes that have marked the best films of 2011 and spins them into a blast of cosmic sparkle dust.

- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Friday, November 11, 2011

Fresh: "Melancholia" is a hauntingly beautiful meditation on depression that is as likely to exasperate as many people as it moves.

- Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic, Thursday, December 1, 2011

Audience Reviews

1 star

After watching this film, I'm feeling quite melancholy myself, as I'm depressed over 2 hours of my life that I'll never get back. Lars Von Trier who wrote and directed the piece (so he cannot point a finger anywhere else other than back at himself), attempted to create something stately and grand, and although there are a few very visceral and beautiful bits of scenery, this film not only moves at glacial speed, but stays in scenes way too long - making me want to hit the fast forward button... of course I would only do that in a desire to get through to the end of the film, as this is one of the few films in recent memory that I wanted to simply turn off (yeah, I've got a good book to read...). The film sets itself up to be a metaphor, how the possibility of a grand and damaging event can cause depression and inaction; mirroring the psychological state of melancholy - which has been defined as "the mental or emotional state of depression". Ok, we get it - and really don't need to see endless scenes of that glorious state of mental illness where a person gets stymied by the inability to act (and I'm not talking about Kirsten Dunst here, who does her best with a thorny role). Looking for further clues - there is a rather nice bit of filming dealing with the collage at the beginning of the film (nice artsy fartsy stuff that once again dwells too long on each frame). One of the first uses of the term "melancholy" was in Shakespeare's Hamlet (the melancholy Dane). In the bard's play, Ophelia is in love with the conflicted Hamlet, and then kills herself when he spurns her love by telling her to "get thee to a nunnery". In the 1800's John Everett Millias painted a wonderful and chilling version of a drowning Ophelia - which the film copies here. A nice touch, but really there is no correlation between Dunst and Ophelia other than a state of depression (in other words, she has not been spurned, mistreated, or had any traumatic event in her upper class, privileged life). I don't usually mention the filming aspects of a project - but simply feel compelled here, as the film editing is atrocious! Scenes are obviously cut and pasted together and - in one of my pet peeves - the music in a continual scene changes from edit point to edit point - for me there is nothing more jarring (I guess you're not supposed to listen to the background music - but I can't help myself, especially when there's little else going on to hold my attention). There are a series of scenes right in a row that take place outside the manor house where Dunst runs into one character after another - almost like she is a placeholder and the action revolves around her and through her. But for me this seems like a bunch of stuff that would have otherwise ended up on the cutting room floor, but instead were kludged together... and the sad thing is that none of it advanced the plot (such as it is), so perhaps should have ended up on said floor. A film dealing with the cataclysmic end of the world scenario could have been poignant and full of pathos - instead Von Triers offers a bloated, self important, over long, badly edited mess of a film. For end of the world offerings, the vignette called Last Night of The World in the film Illustrated Man (based on the Ray Bradbury novel), is much more direct, simple, and for it more heartrendering than this disastrous film.

- paulsandberg, Monday, December 10, 2012

1 star

There are two stories here, one about a marriage that is doomed after the wedding night and one about the impending destruction of the planet. Kirsten Dunst gives the best performance of her career as a manic depressive bride, but that's about all the credit I can give to this film. Lars von Trier is usually artsy but accessible, but there are so many unanswered questions about the source of the characters' problems that I found myself looking for backstory. And while the dumbshow at the beginning contains beautiful images, it doesn't add to the film's overall effect. And assuming there's a thematic connection between the planet's name, Melancholia, and the state of melancholy, I can't understand why von Trier wouldn't know that melancholy is being sad but happy about it; these characters aren't happy about anything. Overall, in typical von Trier fashion, this film is peripatetic and unique, but unlike some of his other work, the real movie, one that communicates something and affects an audience, is in his head, not on film.

- hunterjt13, Sunday, July 8, 2012

2 stars

The movie starts off with some beautiful, weird-ass images like "The Tree of Life," but I was actually enjoying it because there seemed to be a concrete narrative with some charming wedding humor - the stretch limo unable to make it around the bend of a country dirt road - and some really sociopathic behavior - Justine driving out to the golf course to take a piss and then later, revenge-raping a naive coworker. Kirsten Dunst is truly marvelous in all of Justine's moods, blissfully happy one moment, dead and secretly enjoying it the next. The story unravels with the end-of-the-world plot in Part II. There's a bit of nihilist philosophy but not enough to actually BE philosophical or statement-making. The Narrative Nazi in me was hoping we'd get to learn why the two sisters have different accents and the origin of "Auntie Steelbreaker," Leo's nickname for Justine. Despite my criticisms, the movie ends as well as a movie about a planet colliding with the Earth can end: straight to credits. Props for that.

- aliceinpunderland, Friday, July 6, 2012