Science fiction by its very nature is taking a scientific theory, extrapolating it into a fictional conceit and examining its impact on society and the human psyche; in this sense Melancholia is pure science fiction.
But while most film makers examine the impact of a bug-eyed monster invasion on the lives of thick-necked American with big guns, wise-cracking computer nerds and Maxim cover girls, Lars Von Trier instead uses the idea of the apocalypse to examine the nature of anxiety and depression. The story is split into two parts; the first features Kirsten Dunst’s newly wed suffering under the burden of crippling depression on her wedding night, the second featuring her sister whose fear for the life and welfare of her son escalates as Melancholia approaches. As with most of Von Trier’s films it is a mixture of introspective character study, striking imagery and pretentiousness but he does coax some fine performances from his leads and it is a thought provoking film as it lays bear the struggles of living with depression and its effect on those who care for its victim.
It’s very slow moving and virtually devoid of action and so will bore Michael Bay fans to tears, but to those with a more open mind it’s an interesting piece if only for its wildly differing take on sci-fi to the mainstream.