EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|ANTICHRIST (director/writer: Lars von Trier; cinematographer: Anthony Dod Mantle; editor: Anders Refn; music: Handel; cast: Willem Dafoe (He), Charlotte Gainsbourg (She), Storm Acheche Sahlstrom (Nic); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Meta Louise Foldager; IFC Films; 2009-Denmark/Germany/France/Sweden/Italy/Poland-in English)|
grim film that wants you to feel the pain its
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A grim film that wants you
the pain its characters do, but I could only feel their
It's written and directed by the always controversial
Trier ("The Idiots"/"The Five Obstructions"/"Dogville"),
dedicated to the late great Russian filmmaker Andrei
filled with shock-scenes (like clit clipping) and enough
nonsense to make one want to exit the screening
screaming for relief.
But it's the painful images (looking like works of art
museums) that sometimes have a haunting lifelike affect,
that left me
thinking that the film might not be as pretentious as it
appears to be
at first glance.
There's four chapters with
titles Grief, Pain, Despair and The Three Beggars;
there's also a
prologue, in black-and-white, and an epilogue.
In the prologue, a couple is
love and their toddler crawls out of his sleeping bed,
and while on the
window ledge accidentally falls to his death while a
gentle snow falls.
The grieving couple escape the
city to live in
an isolated cabin in the woods, in the Pacific
Northwest (in a place
they call Eden), in an attempt to work through
their guilt and psychological trauma. The smug man (Willem
Dafoe), a psycho-therapist, despite all his
efforts to ease his academic occult researcher wife's
through both therapy and love, nevertheless fails to
reach her and
things turn violent. Which probably tells us that von
doesn't think too much of either of his unsympathetic
the pushy therapist who is mind-fucking his patient in
he's an objective man of science (no pill pusher) and
scarred woman who is hell-bent on destroying the
marriage and the
dominant top-positioned man in their missionary-styled
and lets her role-playing identification with nature run
The ambitious psychological film, featuring two brave performances by exceptional actors (who at one point must listen to a fox who speaks, something one can only roll their eyes at with astonishment), never quite completely attracts or repels, but plays out as a personal film that wants to say big things about the controlling relationships between men and women, how nature is Satan's church (whatever that means!) and of how the viewer reacts to watching something as unsettling as this nightmarish return to the Garden of Eden. The Eden setting turns grotesquely into a unique horror film, as the couple act out the primal struggle that has been in the works since the biblical Adam and Eve.
I wish I could have seen more in it to tickle my imagination, because I think the provocative filmmaker (someone I have mixed feelings about) is onto something, but that something took me on a maudlin slog through the mud and I'm not sure if it was worth it. Though in fairness the polarizing film deserves more than one viewing, as it's a mood film and I think one's reactions depend on one's mood at the time and how the auteur's outrageous sarcasm gets under one's skin at the time.
REVIEWED ON 6/4/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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