Antichrist Movie Review

Von Trier is a filmmaking genius, but this will challenge even his faithful fans. The expert direction, editing and photography are all here, along with two amazing performances. But this warped Adam and Eve myth is seriously hard to stomach.

After the accidental death of their young son, a couple (Dafoe and Gainsbourg) struggles to cope with their anguish. As a therapist, he offers to help her come to terms with the heartache that has landed her in hospital. But when they head to Eden, their isolated woodland getaway, the grief turns to pain and despair, and all of nature seems to conspire against their recovery. This eerily echoes her thesis on female nature, as events take a turn that's feral and terrifyingly gruesome.

If read as a metaphor for a couple dealing with grief, the film is packed with solid, provocative images and ideas. But what's on screen is so explicit that it's impossible to watch it symbolically, as Von Trier combines sex, violence, religion and instinct in graphic, lurid ways that are beyond imagination. The story's climactic fourth chapter is almost unwatchably horrific.

And yet it's bracingly well-made, with lush cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle that looks like a dream turning into a nightmare, including clever slow-motion and effects work that get us into the minds of both characters.

These telling touches cut through the more shocking images, allowing the actors to create characters who are vulnerable and raw, even when they turn the tables on each other in violent ways.

Dafoe is terrific as a man trying to do his best while struggling to avoid his dark instincts. His story is both a tale of survival and an expression of love strained to the breaking point. Meanwhile, Gainsbourg is simply astonishing in a difficult role as the shattered wife who finds it impossible to regain her equilibrium. But then, she's also descending into madness, something that's apparently not new for this character, and Gainsbourg is utterly unafraid to take her to some grisly extremes.

Obviously, there's a problem with a premise that portrays men as masters of their natures while women are the victims of theirs, so they lash out both at men and themselves. The black-and-white prologue and epilogue suggest that everyone has to pay for their sins. But Von Trier's misogynist storytelling is at least complex and challenging, using freak-out images and ideas from the start while somehow maintaining a gritty emotional undercurrent.

Cast & Crew

Director :

Producer : Meta Louise Foldager

Comments

Antichrist Rating

" Good "

Rating: 18, 2009

Advertisement

More Willem Dafoe

A Most Wanted Man Movie Review

Photographer-turned-filmmaker Anton Corbijn continues to show striking maturity with only his third movie (after Control and The American). Based on the John Le Carre novel,...

Jane Fonda And Willem Dafoe Amongst The New Faces (Voices) For Simpsons Season 26

As The Simpsons enters a remarkable 26th season, Jane Fonda and Willem Dafoe are set to lend their voices to two characters in storylines pivotal...

The Fault in Our Stars Movie Review

Based on the beloved novel by John Green, this film is so squarely slanted toward teen girls that it is likely to annoy everyone else....

Cannes 2014: Sofia Coppola, Willem Dafoe and Gael Garcia Bernal Will Judge

The final panel for Cannes 2014 has been decided upon, with Sofia Coppola, Willem Dafoe and Gael Garcia Bernal amongst others joining Jane Campion who...

Advertisement

Introducing, Philip Seymour Hoffman's Last Movie: 'A Most Wanted Man' [Trailer]

The screen adaptation of John Le Carre’s book, ‘A Most Wanted Man’ has been made all the more pertinent by the death of its leading...

A Most Wanted Man Trailer

A German spy belonging to a secret anti-terrorist group named Gunther Bachmann embarks on his latest mission when an immigrant named Issa of both Chechen...

The Fault In Our Stars Trailer

Hazel Lancaster is a bright 16-year-old girl suffering from terminal cancer who is forced to carry an oxygen and breathing tubes with her wherever she...

Nymphomaniac: Volume II Trailer

Joe is a fiercely determined 50-year-old woman whose sexual drive has taken over her entire life. Her story of how she ended up injured in...

Advertisement