Written by Dan Higgins
I have never had the urge to walk out of a film, no matter how bored I am or how terrible it appears to be. For the first time in my life Antichrist summoned this unwanted desire to the forefront of my mind but I remained in my seat (out of shock more than anything else).
What there is of a plot focuses on a coupleÂ (Dafoe and Gainsbourg) retreating to a cabin to deal with the loss of their child. Graphic unsimulated sex scenes, genital mutilation and talking foxes are commonplace.
The film is utterly and emphatically breathtaking, but not in a positive way.Â Some critics have described Antichrist as â€śthe film version of a screamâ€ť and that is the perfect description. If this film achieves anything, it is the expression of ultimate despair and violent regret.
There seems to be obscene violence for the sake of obscene violence. In one scene, following a bloody, disfiguring round of intercourse, Gainsbourg nails machinery to Dafoeâ€™s ankle whilst screaming â€śYouâ€™re leaving me you bastardâ€ť in a frequency so high that only dogs, bats and whales can hear it.Â Dafoe proceeds to attempt an escape by dragging his now-extremely-heavy ankle along the floor and finds momentary solitude in a burrow. Then, when a newborn birdâ€™s squawk alerts Gainsbourg of his location, he bludgeons the poor birdâ€™s head with a stoneâ€¦and this is one of the calmer scenes!
The cinematography is, in a few places, stunning but this does not make up for what is an absolutely abhorrent piece of cinema and, other than cult fame, I cannot even comprehend why Dafoe and Gainsbourg would want to be part of it.
If Lars Von Trier’s aim was to make viewers physically uncomfortable then he has succeeded. He claims he will never make a film again and I only hope he sticks to this promise. Antichrist is, quite simply, a despairingly low form of cinema but this is the very reason it will be remembered.
Last edited: 11th January 2010
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