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TIFF 2011: MELANCHOLIA Movie Review, Kirsten Dunst comes to complex life under the hand of Lars von Trier

 Comment on TIFF 2011: MELANCHOLIA Movie Review, Kirsten Dunst comes to complex life under the hand of Lars von Trier

Review of Melancholia starring Kirsten Dunst at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.

Kisten Dunst and Lars von Trier make an amazing team with MELANCHOLIA.

melanocholia 4 out of 5 star rating

melancholia kirsten dunstA pair of colliding forces sets the end-of-the-world drama Melancholia apart from all other movies this autumn.

The key plot point of Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier's latest movie involves a pretty bride named Justine (Kirsten Dunst) celebrating her wedding night while a newly discovered planet named Melancholia hurtles towards the Earth.

More compelling is the colliding worlds of a Hollywood actress like Kirsten Dunst (the Spider-Man franchise and Bring It On) working with the provocative European auteur Von Trier.

The Danish filmmaker provocateur is as artful and an audacious as ever with Melancholia, a subtle sci-fi drama more focused on Justine's fragile state of mind than colliding planets.

Melancholia's great surprise is Dunst's standout performance as a young woman who seemingly has it all - affluence, beauty, a great career - but it crumbles away under her deep depression.

As the prospect of colliding worlds increases, Dunst shows Justine growing more troubled and uncertain of her actions.

Von Trier's Antichrist star Charlotte Gainsbourg returns in a subtle role as Justine's sister Claire and the frustrated hostess of the luxurious wedding party.

Kiefer Sutherland provides strong support as Justine's wealthy brother-in-law who closely monitors the path of the approaching planet from his massive estate.

John Hurt, as Justine's father, Stellan Skarsgård as Justine's mother, and most of all Charlotte Rampling as Justine's cruel and cynical mother, provide great support.

Unlike Von Trier's horror movie Antichrist, there are no reasons to cover one's eyes while watching Melancholia.

In place of the shocking violence in Antichrist, Von Trier and cameraman Manuel Alberto Claro provide stunning end-of-the-world images and bold visual metaphors involving Justine's crippling depression like the roots of a tree pulling her to the ground.

Melancholia is cinematic and worlds apart from Von Trier's famous "rules of chastity" of his Dogme 95 movement involving handheld cameras and natural light.

For his longtime fans, Melancholia lands right in the middle of the Von Trier filmography; better than Antichrist and The Idiots and but not as good as his landmark movies Breaking the Waves, and Dancer in the Dark.

Like Antichrist, Melancholia is also a movie about depression. It qualifies Melancholia as one of Von Trier's more personal movies since he's been open about his own bouts with depression.

It's also worth mentioning that the attention revolving around Von Trier's outrageous anti-Semitic jokes about "understanding Hitler" at a Cannes press conference for the film continues to fade. While Von Trier's misguided jokes deserve criticism, they take away attention from a film that to be celebrated on its own merits.

Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Alexander Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt, Stellan Skarsgård and Udo Kier

Screenwriter: Lars von Trier

Director: Lars von Trier

Producers: Zentropa

Running Time: 135 min.

Rating: Unrated

Release Date: VOD Oct. 7 and in theaters Nov. 11

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