:. Director: Lars von Trier
:. Starring: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg
:. Running Time: 1:44
:. Year: 2009
:. Country: Denmark
It's almost become a habit for him to try to divide the world and to provoke the most violent reactions against his work. With Antichrist, Lars von Trier pushes the button even harder, hammering the nail in even more deeply, aiming unceasingly at the extreme. While films like Breaking the Waves, The Idiots, Dancer in the Dark or Dogville divided the critics and the public when released, each one proposed new ideas about film sets, testified to an experimentation and a coherent discourse, an artistic and reflexive approach sometimes creating some small masterpieces. These conceptual works were used as starting point for discussions and debates from the reactions they caused.
Antichrist, which wants to be the most personal and most important film of the Danish director, closes on itself and shows the hooks to hold the audience at a distance, while paradoxically seeking to shock it. A swindle, a vast joke? From the first scene, one rightly fears the worst (which will actually come later). Filmed in an orgy of numerous ugly effects that makes it look like a tv commercial, it shows us, as a prologue, a couple devoted to sexual intercourse (here we are with Lars von Trier, who ironically self-proclaimed himself the best director in the world at the Cannes press conference) and whose child escapes their watch and accidentally dies. The wife loses it and goes into impossible mourning, so the husband takes her to a cottage in the forest, vulgarly baptized Eden, to apply his methods of therapy. What follows is a succession of Mr. Von Trier's nightmares, put in image with no other purpose than being incomprehensible, even daring the ridiculous, such as the fox declaring "Chaos reigns!" One could have expected a horror film, as the screenwriter had succesfully done with the series The Kingdom, but we instead end up with an improbable closed-door telluric and woodland drama in which two beings manage their feeling of guilt while tearing each other up and mutilating themselves.
For as much, the film testifies to an extraordinary aesthetic control and the actors Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe compete with talent in their performance, exposing their bodies to nudity it pushes the limits so far it falls in a totally assumed ridicule. One will have the right, among other things, to see an eclitoration (we use the neologism to summarize the torments the female sex undergoes), an ejaculation of blood, the fixing of a grinding stone to the leg, the whole served by sadly laughable dialogue: "Nature is the church of Satan". The whole thing stubbornly remains as obscure and hermetic as the nightmare of a psychotic. Frightening? Disturbing? Irritating? None of that. Just disappointing and disturbing. The film suffers from its sufficiency, arrogance and selfishness. Too deeply personal to not leave the audience at the door, on the contrary, Antichrist turns its back and refuses access to its mysteries while being draped in a dishonest provocative approach. And even at that level, it fails.
If the film is the fruit of the author's serious depression, one worries about his mental health and wishes for his speedy recovery. He should take his time, and above all, get help!
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