Written and directed by Lars von Trier, Melancholia follows two sisters’ Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), relationship while a planet threatens to collide into Earth. Justine, whose wedding party is being thrown at her sister’s estate, is unconcerned about the whole affair. The first half of the film is her indifference towards the reception but trying for the sake of her husband, (Alexander Skarsgård), her sister, and her brother-in-law, (Keifer Sutherland). She struggles with depression on a day of celebration. Claire is forced to mediate the situation with the guests and care for her sister but she’s obviously disappointed at Justine’s attempt at happiness.
The eerie tone set through the instrumental music, the crisp, clean visuals, and the melancholy state of its main characters sets a different tone on our doom. These days, films about the end of the world focus on the destruction of our planet and how to defend Earth and protect humanities. The characters are in a constant state of panic. Here, instead, we’re given a situation and shown two different responses. The film opens with the end of the world; you know it is going to happen. It’s not about the suspense of saving the planet; it’s how people react, their personalities.
Dunst and Gainsbourg deliver opposite reactions: numb and nonchalant and panicky and chaotic. At one point in the film Justine utters to her sister, “And when I say we're alone, we're alone. Life is only on earth, and not for long.” She leaves you thinking: how would you react if you knew the world was ending; if there was nothing left but to die? And that’s what makes this film unique.