When I first read the description for Lars von Trier's Melancholia, I thought it was going to be a slightly weird/twisted/dark film about a depressed woman on her wedding day. But then, um... what? I went to see the movie with my girlfriends last night, and it was so much more than I expected it to be. It wasn't until the end of the evening (and a couple of post-cinema cocktails) that we unanimously decided we liked it, because it took a while to wrap our minds around what we had just seen.
The very basic (non-spoiling) premise is that a young woman (Kirsten Dunst, who my friend later asked my opinion of, since I normally can't stand her/think she's a terrible excuse for an actress--perhaps with the exception of The Virgin Suicides--and I decided that she should stick with playing depressive characters, since I quite liked her in this) is getting married in an elaborately coordinated ceremony, hosted and funded by her sister and (reluctant) brother-in-law (that's Part I). In Part II, we find out that there is a planet (Melancholia), hurtling toward Earth, which is causing the *sane* sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg) intense anxiety, despite her science-loving husband's assurance that the planet will fly passively by.
Most surprising to me was the fact that I found it incredibly funny. Not in the typical laugh-out-loud way (though I did, and often), but in the subtly understated, ridiculous way that life is amusing every day, even in the darkest moments. The cinematography was breathtaking, the characters were amply exasperating, and the film had a quality of magical realism that seemed to tread the line between science and fantasy that exists in all of our minds, for better or for worse. I'm surprised by how much I'm still thinking about it, and would definitely recommend that everyone see it, but perhaps have a cocktail or two afterward (to help with digestion ;)