Box art for Melancholia

Melancholia

  • Rated NR
  • HD and SD formats available

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
    78%
  • Audience Score
    67%

common sense

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

    78%
    reviews counted: 21
    see all Melancholia reviews
  • Audience

    67%

Top Critic Reviews

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

- Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com, 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

4 stars

Melancholia is one of the most bizarre and surreal films to come out in quite some time. Director Lars Von Trier crafts a perplex picture that is well acted by Kirsten Dunst and this has to be one of her best roles of her career. The rest of the cast are great as well and have effective screen presence. Trier directs a powerful film that is bold, eccentric and depressing. However this is what makes for a wonderful viewing experience that is quite unforgettable. Lars Von Trier showcases his talents perfectly here and he combines the psychological aspects with plenty of drama and disaster elements. This is a terrific piece of cinema that is haunting that is aided with a wonderful story and a strong sense of visuals. The result is one of the most brilliant works in the cinematic medium to come out in quite some time. The film may not appeal to every moviegoer, but to those looking for something a bit different than your usual disaster film, then this is a refreshing new look at that. The film overcomes its flaws, and it does it very well due to the powerful directing of directors Lars Von Trier. This is affine piece of Art House cinema that is a near flawless picture, one that any serious cinema buff can't pass up. Sure the film is slow, well paced and it doesn't have all the trimmings of a big budget extravaganza. This is a wonderful film that is brilliantly constructed from start to finish, and even if it's a tad long, you simply can't tear yourself away due to the powerful performances and unique story.

- TheDudeLebowski65, Monday, December 17, 2012

3 stars

Although this is the first film of his I've actually sat down to watch, I am familiar with Lars von Trier and what he does. What we get here is an apocalyptic drama centered around a rogue planet that is on a collision course with Earth. The story is told in two parts and focusing (primarily) on two sisters, Justine: a severely depressed newlywed and Claire who is quite wealthy and tries to look after/help Justine. The film doesn't try to be scientifically accurate in terms of the astrophysics, but as a treatise on depression/melancholy and how different people react to looming crisis, it's actually pretty good. Especially with how depression is portrayed. That probably has something to do with the fact that a lot of this is based on von Trier's own experiences with depression. I actually found this to have a lot in common with Rachel Getting Married, due to wedding plot points, depression, bummed out characters, and the fact that both films are rambling, meandering, slow, and pretentious, artsy indies. That film was annoying though. This one, though it might be difficult, is sorta easier to tolerate, even though it is rather hard to sit through at times. Yeah, it's over long, and perhaps too slow, but I found this to be less boring than I anticipated. Where the film really excels is in being ethereal as well as absolutely gorgeous. The look here is really striking at times, especially during the big tableaux shots. Some of the handheld stuff is great too, but the big stuff, especially the prologue, is just brilliant. The same goes for the use of music, which is the frequent repetition of the prologue from Tristan Und Isolde by Wagner. Kirsten Dunst gives basically her best performance of her career so far as Justine. She's really engaging and a joy to watch, even though she's playing such a joyless and damaged character. Charlotte Gainsbourg is fine as Claire, though not as strong as Dunst. I liked seeing Kiefer Sutherland as Claire's husband John, as well as the hamminess of Udo Kier and John Hurt. Both Stellan and Alexander Skarsgard appear, but unfortunately there's not enough of them, especially Alexander. This is definitely a challenging film, but it can be rewarding if you give it a chance. I'm torn on the specific rating, so let's split it between 3.5 and 4 stars.

- cosmo313, Monday, January 21, 2013

2 stars

I'm not sure what to really think about this. I suppose I give it a low rating because it failed to make a deep impression on me. It left me a bit confused about the message this was trying to portray (that we should take advantage of every moment we have left in our lives? that life is not important and that we shouldn't care?). Dunst is good as the depressed bride ruining her wedding (it is weird that her sister has a British accent). The problem with it is exactly in how some critics describe the film: "baffling but brilliant" and "as likely to exasperate as many people as it moves". I think I'm one of the few who found themselves on the negative end of the spectrum as I didn't find anything psychologically interesting about what this film was trying to say. I can understand that this is a film exploring depression and that the answers it gives won't be comforting, but I just found the slow pace and artsy scenes too bland and aggravating. Or maybe I just didn't like von Trier's vision this time around (me being quite a fan of his).

- Raajay, Wednesday, February 12, 2014