Antichrist (2009)

Directed By: Lars Von Trier
Written By: Lars Von Trier
Starring: Charlotte Gainsbourg
  Willem Dafoe
Antichrist

Antichrist is brilliant. It is visually stunning, intense, smart, bizarre, scary, horrific, bonkers and beautiful. It is also terrible. This oxymoronic horror / drama / piss-take is hard to describe without juxtaposing every sentence you can write about it. It is a work of modern art – provoking and frustrating.

Antichrist is about a couple (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) who, following the death of their only child, seek to come-to-terms with their loss by visiting a cabin in the woods, only to find themselves thrown into a self-made nightmare where nature becomes a menace and some extreme marital fracas occurs. Played out in six chapters labeled Prologue, Grief, Pain, Despair, a final chapter and Epilogue, it was never going to be a happy thrill-ride, yet Lars von Trier really smashes apart the groin of happiness (quite literally at one point). The opening sequence is utterly stunning, played in super-slow mo where “He” and “She” make love while their toddler child goes for a fatal wander around their home, and the tone continues, pasted with a harrowing bluish aura reminiscent of Pan’s Labyrinth’s woody, earthy feel that always smacks of danger and mysticism.

The performances from Dafoe and Gainsbourg are raw and fantastic, but you wonder whether they shared the same joke von Trier seems to be perpetuating. And it is a joke. It has to be. von Trier is an auteur, a grotesquely talented filmmaker who knows cliché from originality, subtle metaphor from ham-fisted didacticism. Antichrist is so filled with obvious metaphor it works, almost hinting at another layer beyond the obvious, beyond the subtle, that reaches into the souls of the two inhabitants of his twisted world. If you embrace this, then Antichrist works, and the shock moments are shocking but required. It is brutal and disgusting but almost hilarious, as if it’s raising a middle-finger towards the recent Hollywood embracement of gorenography films that try so damn hard to be horrific and miss the mark entirely. This is either genius or a huge mis-step for a director know for such great works as Europa, Dancer in the Dark and Dogville.

Certainly not a first date movie or a Christmas gift for Grandma, Antichrist features graphic slow-mo intercourse, a problem erection and some seriously misguided home-surgery that sticks to the mind and bites on for a long time after. Shudder-worthy and audacious, but unnervingly necessary.

Antichrist is a hard-going and brutal piece, incredibly shot and acted. It is brilliant, but it is awful. It is stunning, but it is horrible to endure. Watch it and be amazed.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

One Comment on “Antichrist”

  1. Phil Taberner says:

    Wow. I’ve just finished watching it…it must be the most harrowing filmic experience of my life! I thoroughly agree with your review. Great job!

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