Lars Von Trier’s reputation for torturing his female leads continues with Melancholia: How much does he want his leading lady Kirsten Dunst to suffer? Enough to smash her with an entire planet, killing everyone else on Earth in the process. Judging by the trailer, however, Dunst’s character may actually welcome the destruction, as she seems filled with sadness long before this mysterious planet that’s been “hiding behind the sun” (?) arrives to put an end to her misery, with not even the prospect of marrying True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgard during a lavish ceremony at a tony, upper-crust mansion doing much to cheer her up.
Perhaps it’s because, as Kiefer Sutherland notes, everyone in her family seems to be “stark raving mad,” particularly her increasingly paranoid sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg), or maybe it’s just that Dunst is filled with the sort of melodramatic, intangible emptiness that causes her to flop about in various states of sort-of-NSFW undress, wishing on a star to come and end it all. While she suffers, Von Trier conjures plenty of striking images—a shot of Dunst suddenly shooting electricity from her fingers could well be Melacholia’s “Chaos reigns”—but best of all is that looming rogue planet, growing closer by the moment and threatening to bring all our misery to an end in the world’s prettiest apocalypse. Happy Friday, everyone.
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