Last week on Cinemascape on Eastside 89.7 FM I reviewed Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist. There are few films in recent memory that can match the harrowing experience of sitting in a theatre and watching Von Trier’s bloody, nauseating, disturbing nightmare. The director has claimed that the film was a guttural outpouring that screamed from his body after a period of deep depression and after watching the film clear almost half the audience at the screening I attended you do have to worry about the mental state of the director.
Telling the story of a couple who are traumatized by the death of their young child the film who dies while the couple are having sex. She, an amazing performance by Charlotte Gainsbourg, is grief stricken beyond belief. Her child killed as she was experiencing exquisite pleasure. He, played by Willem Dafoe, a physiologist by trade, takes his wife to a woodlands cottage, the place she is most terrified of to try and help her deal with the dark demons that have now overwhelmed her life.
The visuals are stunning from the over indulgent, black and white, slow motion operatic opening to the breathtaking creepy woodlands; this is one of the most visually beautiful films seen this year. This beauty, however, will be overshadowed by the unflinchingly grotesque denouement as the couples already fragile relationship turns to violence and self mutilation. For this reason Antichrist remains a very hard film to recommend. While it is a bravura piece of film making recalling Gaspar Noé’s Irréversible and Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession in terms of the effect sickening imagery; Von Trier pushes boundaries rarely scene and in one particular moment gives us a sickening cinematic first. Approach with caution, anyone easily offended stay away but if you are fascinated by cinema that takes it’s audience to the emotional limit, Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist is an extraordinary experience.