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ANTICHRIST

Director: LARS VON TRIER

DENMARK-GERMANY-FRANCE-SWEDEN-ITALY-POLAND • 2009 • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • DIGITAL • 104 MIN


LARS VON TRIER’S HARROWING TALE OF A MARRIED COUPLE WHOSE SON ACCIDENTALLY PLUNGES TO HIS DEATH FROM AN OPEN WINDOW SCANDALISED AUDIENCES AND CRITICS AT THIS YEAR’S CANNES FILM FESTIVAL.

Thanks in part to four perversely pornographic scenes and his treatment of female lead Charlotte Gainsbourg that will spark charges of sadism, von Trier has reasserted his claim as the most controversial figure of European art cinema. Like it or hate it, nobody seemed to be able to get this movie out of their head. Gainsbourg, who won the Best Actress prize at Cannes, plays the grief-stricken mother while Willem Defoe is the coldly rational therapist-husband who tries to coax her back to life in their tumble-down cottage in the woods. This proves disastrous, as what boded to be a trite melodrama is transformed into a nightmarish labyrinth in which mythology, witchcraft and sexual obsession all play their shadowy parts. Bleak realism interweaves with horror-movie stylisation and a soundtrack that veers from classical to experimental to further enhance the schizophrenic nature of the experience and place the film outside any known genre.

None of the participants, including von Trier, claims to know what the film is really about, nor would critics in Denmark hazard a guess, although that didn’t stop them rallying around their imperfect local hero with chants of ‘masterpiece’. By turns fascinating, repulsive, shocking and banal, Antichrist is von Trier at his most intuitive and psychologically inventive. He made it to work himself out of a deep depression, to plumb his own demons and nightmares, and in the process he has created the consummate empty vessel that provokes on a number of different levels and sows chaos in its wake. He must be happy. — Jack Stevenson.This film contains scenes which some may find offensive.

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