While I’m waiting for next week and several press screenings of new movies, I continue publishing some older material here on Xomba. Like this review of Lars von Trier’s ANTICHRIST, originally written and published on June 3, 2009, but since it opened theatrically in the U.S. in October, a very limited release, of course, this review isn’t that old. And guess this is a piece I really should have among my other stuff here.
Lars von Trier is a fusspot. I’ve thought that for a long time now. I confess I thought he was cool when he made THE KINGDOM and his early movies. BREAKING THE WAVES was okay, I guess. After that, I find his work totally atrocious – okay, I haven’t seen THE BOSS OF IT ALL. DANCER IN THE DARK? Drivel. Dogme 95? A PR stunt for von Trier. And that’s more or less what his career is all about. It’s von Trier marketing himself in different creative ways. I’m still convinced THE IDIOTS wasn’t the real von Trier film the year it competed at Cannes. When the director and his actors walked the red carpet to the gala screening, they were filming each other with small cameras. I believe that was the real movie. The movie about the joke THE IDIOTS going all the way to Cannes.
And DOGVILLE and MANDERLAY? Come on – they’re totally unwatchable. But DOGVILLE would probably have worked if made as a real movie, using real sets and locations.
ANTICHRIST was the Scandal Film of the Year at Cannes this year. There’s usually one or two of those at Cannes every year. After what I’ve heard (I didn’t go to Cannes this year), huge parts of the audience were booing, and at a chaotic press conference (chaos reigns?), a British journalist asked von Trier to defend the making of his film. Von Trier claimed he didn’t have to defend or motivate anything at all, he does whatever he wants to, which or course is correct. He also said he’s the best director in the world, which is less correct.
This movie is said to be provocative. And yes: it is provocative. It’s provokingly BAD, that’s what it is! Holy crap, what a piece of shit this is! ANTICHRIST is booooring like hell and it’s über pretentious.
Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg have sex in the shower in the prologue. In sloooooow-moooootiooooon. About a minute into the movie comes the first inserted close-up of hardcore penetration. In slooow-moootioooon. Von Trier gets away with things like that and calls it “art”, and the art-house crowd believes him. I call it speculation – because that’s what it is.
While the couple is banging away, their little son falls out an open window. In slooow-moootioooon. The death of the toddler leads to Gainsbourg losing her mind. She trembles and snorts and screams, but calms down a little whenever Dafoe has sex with her, something he realizes he can’t do all the time, so they go to a cabin deep in the woods for a therapy session.
While there, the woman (the characters don’t have any names) gets nuttier and nuttier. Way too often, she strolls around in the foggy woods. Inslooooow-mooootiooon . The man is jazzing around in the nature as well, and we get to see a bunch of animals and their children getting killed in different ways. A little bird falls down a tree. A fox looks like it’s ripping a fetus from its own belly, but I’m not sure. But the fox starts talking. It says “Chaos reigns!”. Hm.
The woman goes even crazier, so now it’s time for the movie to get violent, and bodies are drilled, genitalia is chopped, and there’s nudity and sex in the woods and, well, the woman knows how to use an old whetstone.
All of this is mixed up with religious mumbo jumbo and old myths and pictures of murdered women and the burning of witches and symbolics, and I really don’t want to try analyzing all this. During Cannes, the trades reported that the American and British markets were going to censor and re-edit ANTICHRIST to make it softer and more “catholic”, whatever that is (I don’t think they actually did cut the film when it eventually opened). Personally, I’m totally uninterested in what von Trier wants to say. If he wants to say anything.
I read in the press book that the movie is about the struggle between the sexes, the evil inherent in the nature, and the savage evil of womankind. Really? The movie may also be about von Trier trying to shock just for the sake of shocking. But the movie is too boring for an audience who likes being shocked – and in the country where I live, it’s impossible to provoke using religious aspects, since nobody’s religious.
Charlotte Gainsbourg received the Best Actress award at Cannes. That doesn’t surprise me, movies about screaming, hysterical women drenched in blood seem to be appreciated at Cannes – just look at Isabelle Adjani, who back in 1981 became Best Actress after playing the lead in the pretentious horror movie POSSESSION.
But I wouldn’t call ANTICHRIST a horror movie. It’s more like … nothing. Dung. Yeah, that’s what it is. Dung. It doesn’t matter it was shot by the same guy who won an Oscar for the cinematography of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE! The movie is very theatrical and there’s not one natural sounding line.
ANTICHRIST is financed by DR (Danish television), SVT (Swedish television), The Danish Film Institute, The Swedish Film Institute, Nordisk Film, Germany, Poland and more. In other words, my tax money has been pumped into this damn movie! And you know what? That really sucks!