Two movies that are perhaps not well known but they remain some of the most unique films I've seen. Both quite difficult and similar - not just when it comes to the disturbed heroine but also the way we are shown her life on screen.
Both films follow very odd young women - in Lars Von Trier's only watchable movie Melancholia it's Justine, crippled by depression. In Sleeping Beauty, it's strange Lucy who takes a job as a sex worker - a very special one - she is being paid to drink tea that renders her completely unconscious for men to grope her (but never penetrate) as she sleeps naked.
These two girls don't belong. They aren't the way everyone else seems to be - they are very often singled out in the middle of the frame with no one else next to them, yet they look so exposed and fragile, with Justine - roots coming out of the ground to grab her, with Lucy, her all pale and naked - barely able to walk as the drugs begin to take effect.
We see many scenes in which we are shown just how different they are from everyone - Justine actually enjoying the fact that the World is about to end, because she has given up on it a long time ago and her chaotic existence was always seen as strange and odd. In the face of the inevitable it makes her the only calm person in the story - while her well adjusted sister falls into panic, Justine is all serenity. With Lucy we see her nonchalantly burning the money she earned for what she did. If it's not the money then why does she do it? Because it has no meaning for her, just as job, marriage and life itself don't mean much to Justine.
There is an older woman in the movie, in case of Justine her suffocating mother and in case of Lucy her employer. You get a feeling these two were exactly like their counterparts earlier on in their lives. The film never gives you much hope that Justine and Lucy will get off that destructive road and it's reflected in the bitterness of these women.
We also see scenes of Justine and Lucy picking fruit - with Lucy even dropping them on the floor of the car - just as life, youth and time are all slipping away through her fingers, with her on some level being aware of this. Justine is also often shown around nature - as wild and puzzling as she is. She is even shown lying naked on the ground staring at the planet that's about to destroy everything. But Justine is not scared. She is waiting.
There are men in their lives, with Justine it's her husband that's there for her but she doesn't really want him around. He doesn't understand her, nobody does. With Lucy it's her dying alcoholic friend, who seems to be the only friend she has, but he has very little time left.
We repeatedly see the characters on the bed, either sleeping or refusing to get up, or spending their time in solitude - with Justine refusing to do anything as her depression begins to worsen and with Lucy not really caring about anything - lying on the floor at work, burning money as she needs them to pay the rent, not really talking to anyone.
The film ends with two of the heroines breaking down - Justine crying as she realizes that everything is going to disappear in the matter of seconds and Lucy almost dying and screaming in horror, realizing that she could just as easily be dead at the moment. In the face of something this irreversible they feel fear for the first time.
The whole movie the characters are sleepwalking through life and they seem to become awake in the end, but only Lucy will be given a chance to change. It's hard to imagine she will, though, as her ways are as deadly as the doom coming for Justine and everyone else.