*Don't like spoilers? Spoiler alert...although, you can't really spoil the experience of this film.*
Melancholia is a film directed by Lars von Trier. The film is split into two acts.
The first act begins with a long take of a limo trying to get up a narrow drive to a wedding. It cannot make a tight turn because there are stone pylons on the inside of the driveway preventing the limo from making the turn. Eventually the groom, Michael, played by Alexander Skarsgard, gives it a go and fails. Then the bride, Justine, played by Kirsten Dunst, gives it her best and fails to make the turn, but does succeed in damaging the limo. It was comical. It was the last time I laughed during this film.
The wedding begins and there is an unease. It isn't certain what the uneasiness is, but it's present. Slowly, we start to realize that Justine has some problems. She steals away frequently to be by herself and away from the commotion. During a time when we feel she should be happy she is instead blank. There are some low-key confrontations between tertiary characters that are swept away by other guests. The viewer is given an idea that things are not quite right, but never enough to place a concrete emotion to what is happening.
The movie is then dull for a very long time as it follows Justine's battle with her melancholia. Unfortunately, to have a protagonist with this disease makes for an incredibly boring and at times infuriating film as she makes wild choices throughout her excruciatingly long wedding. Everyone at the wedding seems fed up with the bride and her personality, but no one says anything about it. Eventually Justine fucks some random dude on the golf course's 19th green. There is probably some significance to this being hole 19, but I am uncertain what that may have been. As dawn breaks Michael realizes it was a worthless endeavour to attempt to win Justine's love and give her happiness, so he leaves. Justine seems cool with this decision. Shorest wedded bliss ever.
Act two begins. Some time has passed.
Justine is far worse than before. Her melancholia has consumed her. We learn that a planet has appeared in the sky. John, played by Kiefer Sutherland, is an astronomer and Justine's brother-in-law. He assures everyone that the planet will not hit Earth, but will begin to recede. He gives his wife, Claire, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg, a wire hangar bent to form a circle. He informs her she should hold it up everyday to the incoming planet and will see that each day the planet takes up less of the circle. Claire does this. She is put at ease as what John says seems to be true. Justine bathes nude on a rock at night in the light of the incoming planet. Although her mental state is wrecked, she seems comfortable with the coming doom of the world. Whereas everyone else is short of breath, she develops a primal lust at the imminent destruction of everything. It's as though her disease has prepared her for this. Oh, and whoever named the planet decided to go with Melancholia. How hopeful.
John offs himself in the horse barn. Claire freaks out. She realizes John has made the circle on the hangar larger each day and in fact the planet has been getting closer. She goes berserk. She runs around like crazy as though some magical land will appear that isn't going to be destroyed in the imminent collision with the planet Melancholia. Claire is suffering much like her sister. Because Justine is so used to this, she manages to create a false barrier using her "magic" to ward off the incoming Melancholia at the insistence of Claire's son, Leo. Justine used to play with Leo in this manner, making magical places, but she stopped once she suffered her breakdown. Now that all is hopeless, she recognizes where she can help, to bring a false sense of security. To make the final moments at least peaceful.
This movie is not entertaining. It's well-acted, well-written and is beautiful, but it's dull. However, I couldn't stop thinking about this film for a few days after watching. Mainly, I wondered if there was any way to make this same movie, but have it be entertaining. Ultimately, I decided that no, there really wasn't a way to have this subject made into an entertaining movie in the manner it's approached. The movie itself is a manifestation of the sickness suffered by the characters brought on both internally, Justine's sickness, and externally, the impending collision with the planet Melancholia and the destruction of Earth.
The purpose of this film was to make a simple point. A person suffering from melancholy can no more feel better than a person can feel fine that Earth will be destroyed. To truly suffer from a disease is to feel as out of control as the destruction of everything. In the end, we will be both internally and externally decimated. We can pretend everything will be okay, but it won't. There is nothing that can be done to stop the sickness.