Antichrist (C+)

AntichristAmidst the gloom of today’s invisible sky and helplessness at the thought of the number of stranded individuals, there was Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, quite the antithesis of anything hopeful and humane in this world.

Of course the shroud of mystery surrounding the auteur’s latest film after its controversial bow at Cannes a few months ago is enough for anybody who finds both independent and mainstream cinema fascinating to push them to see the film. Von Trier encapsulates everything right about filmmaking, yet everything wrong about humanity – thus making it a difficult thing to quantify into a C+ score.

Half of myself loves the film for its technical brilliance, staggering its audience with mesmerizing imagery all throughout, and half of it simply hates it for what it seemingly stands for. It’s difficult to judge the film hastily however – von Trier’s inherent artistry is on full display here, as well as his apparent dementedness.

Telling the highly fantastic tale of an unnamed married couple played flawlessly by both Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, Antichrist takes the viewer on a visceral ride from the film’s pitch-perfect prologue to the haunting conclusion. Ms. Gainsbourg’s character falls into a certain hysteria following the death of their son, and the couple retreat into the woods where all hell breaks loose.

The film is slow, and deliberately so. Much of the characterization takes place through philosophic conversation between the film’s two leads, something that makes the movie both interesting and dull at the same time. It’s obvious von Trier was gunning at gender studies as well as a certain look at the history of violence against women, but they’ve somehow become, at least in my opinion, indulgent.

To cap the entire thing off, what ticked me off most was the film’s unabashed usage of sex and violence that took on von Trier’s themes and concretized it onscreen. I call myself a liberal but I do believe that he goes too far in the film and that his work crosses the line between art and insanity.

Many people have accused the film of misogyny – and although I’d like to believe otherwise I somehow agree. A filmmaker has the power to entertain, to shock, to educate and to empower, but not like this. If von Trier was hoping the film would be the complete opposite of what it was presenting, and I hope that he was, he must know that there are other ways.

Don’t get me wrong, the film is a thoroughly effective piece of work – albeit too effective sometimes.

It doesn’t really help that the maid walks into your room while Ms. Gainsbourg is violently masturbating at the foot of a tree, now does it?

See Antichrist with an open mind and then you decide.

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