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Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Gainsbourg, John Hurt, Charlotte Rampling, Stellan Skarsgard, Jesper Christensen, Brady Corbet, Alexander Skarsgard

Director: Lars Von Trier

Much of this very slow (and very long) film would be best suited to people who like browsing through art galleries. Some of the images are stunning, and we're invited to gaze at them for quite a long time. This is little hardship perhaps in the case of a naked Dunst, but something of a trial in numerous other scenes.

As the blue planet Melancholia nears Earth on a possible collision course, a lavish wedding reception takes place at a palatial country home. Friction is evident from the start. The bride (Dunst) has more than a screw loose, and later takes a bath in the middle of the event, while her addled father (Hurt) and vitriolic mother (Rampling) studiously ignore each other.

Frazzled by it all are the bride's sister (Gainsbourg) and her scientist husband (Sutherland), who insists that Melancholia is going to miss and there's nothing to worry about.

As the bride and groom retire to their chamber, she begs to be excused and hops off to the nearby golf course, where she bangs an employee of her boss (Stellan Skarsgard) in a bunker.

All this may make Von Trier's film seem a darn sight livelier than it actually is. Everything takes an age to happen and the film's actual dramatic content is truly minimal. The result is probably either a masterpiece, or a masterpiece in conmanship. I tend to the latter view: as in The Emperor's New Clothes, the audience is invited to admire, as Danny Kaye once sang, the charm of every stitch.

David Quinlan

USA 2011. UK Distributor: Artificial Eye. Colour by Nordisk.
137 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 27 Sep 2011