AntichristFeature Film |
Sensational press coverage aside, just the title Antichrist and the name Lars von Trier together portend a strange, sinister, and, of course, very divisive film. The ever-controversial Danish writer/director's 2009 offering is all of those things, and it's also completely fascinating. The exceedingly dark and tense tale focuses entirely on a couple (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) grieving the accidental death of their young son. While Dafoe's therapist character is cool and collected, Gainsbourg's sorrowful scholar becomes unhinged by the tragedy, and together they retreat to their cabin in the woods—where only greater misery awaits. Like the similarly challenging, though less provocative, Mulholland Drive, there's a point in Antichrist where things suddenly shift dramatically, and how much viewers will appreciate the work as a whole largely depend on how they take this enigmatic turn. Though the film has button-pushing scenes of explicit sex and horrible violence, there are also moments of stunning beauty and riveting emotion, with both Dafoe and Gainsbourg each mesmerizing in their own way. Despite its cryptic and confounding nature, Antichrist is intriguing largely because von Trier seems concerned with more than just shocks—conceived during an admittedly severe bout of depression and anxiety, the film presents those states in vivid cinematic terms. It's not pleasant to watch, but it's utterly unforgettable.