Review – Lars von Trier’s Antichrist
– by Shawn Conner
There’s always an underlying (some might say “overlaying”) layer of pretension to Lars von Trier‘s projects, except maybe The Kingdom which was pretty much sheer brilliance from beginning to end. But Antichrist takes things to a new level with its mix of symbolism, metaphor, myth and good ol’ fashioned humping.
Or maybe it doesn’t – I haven’t seen Dogville, so maybe Antichrist falls short in the pretension department compared to that notoriously set-free film.
Depending on what you’ve heard about the controversial new movie, though, it’s all true – basically, it’s supremely silly and often heavy-handed, but at the same time pretty compelling. And, except for one moment, you’re probably not going to do much laughing. Instead, you’re most likely to get caught up in the fate von Trier has decided on for his characters, a couple (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) who dive into subterranean psychosexual territory, both literally and figuratively, after the accidental death of their child.
Other things worth mentioning: nature as depicted here is not friendly; there will be blood (the characters) and wincing (the audience); Willem Dafoe has one of the best, most distinctive faces in cinema; a couple of times I couldn’t help thinking of the Green Goblin; the movie’s prologue is probably the most beautiful five minutes you’ll see in a theatre this year; there are images that will stay with you for years to come.
At the same time, Dafoe’s therapist character mumbles the most inane psychological mumbo-jumbo since Eyes Wide Shut. The end credits include references to people who researched misogyny, demonology, and a couple of other -ologies to, presumably, help Von Trier with his script. Uhm, note to von Trier – maybe next time hire a screenwriter?
On another note, check out this great Antichrist movie poster by David D’Andrea for the 2009 Fantastic Film Festival in Austin, held at the Alamo Drafthouse (as briefly seen in the other subterranean psychosexual movie we saw this weekend, Whip It).