I am cheating on my rules today. I wanted this project to be exclusively about films that are new to me (or that I at least have not seen in my post college life), but with the amount that I have been struggling just watching and posting anything lately, I chose to give myself a pass today. While the movie I chose to watch may seem odd given my current mental state, just trust me when I say it makes sense to me.
Melancholia (2011, Dir. Lars von Trier)
I adore this film in ways that it is going to be difficult for me to fully explain today. Rather than fail to talk about everything the film does to make it the masterpiece it is, I want to touch on an extremely personal aspect of it that resonates with me. Lars von Trier’s previous film Antichrist (2009) was created in a self-admitted state of deep depression. While a great film itself, that film felt the weight of the director’s depression in an unrelenting way.
Two years later, and von Trier was in a less depressed place and was able to look back on that extreme depression from a happier place on the other side. This hindsight keeps the mood similarly heavy, but it allows for less absolutes in intensity. This allows for a more honest portrayal of mental illness. Like her director, Kirsten Dunst came at the material from the prospective of someone who had openly dealt with depression previously. She uses this experience to deliver a perfect performance that depicts serious depression outside of normal fictional portrayals and instead creates something much more brutally honest. It is in this honesty stemming from the director and actress’s experience that results in Melancholia being one of the films that most perfectly crafted depictions of mental illness set to film.