Lars von Trier's unholy "Antichrist", with talking animals!!!

Bitter, Bitter Balcony, Movie Review, Antichrist 2009Lars von TrierLars von TrierCharlotte Gainsbourg, Willem Dafoe Bitter,Bitterometer,meter Antichrist(2009)

Lars von Trier has been called many things: a nouvelle vogue cinematic genius, a misogynist pig with a camcorder, an emotional sadomasochist, or by Bitter Balcony’s very own JAS, simply a shithead. Personally, I think he’s somewhere between the best filmmaker in the world and Marquis de Sade tormentor, a self-indulgent, but exhilarating film demigod, or like the title of his latest film, a potential “Antichrist.”

The Danish auteur pioneered the Dogma movement, shooting au naturel with a digital camera. He gave us raw, emotionally draining films such as “The Idiots,” “Breaking the Waves,” and the Björk musical-tragedy “Dancer in the Dark.” However, von Trier has ventured into horror in the past, as shown in his two-part miniseries “The Kingdom,” 1987’s“ Epidemic,” and his cult thriller “The Element of Crime.” “Antichrist” brings the mad Dane to a genre that might have be suited for him all along; one where his manipulative instincts can deviate into not just the emotional angst, but physical punishment as well.

“Antichrist” is the story of a nameless secular couple referred to simply as She (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and He (Willem Dafoe). During a night of passion, the couple’s child, the polysemous named Nic, dies while falling out of the window of his room. Stricken with grief, She ends up falling ill, while He, who is a psychiatrist, takes it upon himself to treat his wife. After a period of psychiatric trial and error, the couple decide to find the truth in their cabin located in Eden, a rapturous forestall hideout where She was working on a thesis, and possibly the source of her torment. However, Eden offers anything but serenity for the spouses, as they discover that the evil beneath the green splendor has them just where it wants them.

Is “Antichrist” an encoded masterpiece with terrifying references to the horrendous witch hunts that killed hundreds of innocent women, or a “splat-pack” entry masquerading graphic imagery (an erect penis is stroked until it ejaculates blood, ouch!) that pretends to argue anything remotely intellectual? For this half of the Bitter Balcony, “Antichrist” is a flamboyant, zany horror film that resides between ridiculousness and perversity. It’s where laughing and being perturbed are both fair reactions, and like a Joan Miró painting, all conclusions the viewer gathers are valid and wrong. During a pivotal scene where He is impaired by a weight disk drilled to his leg by his wife, a macabre constellation named the three beggars align. While She announces the event, he vehemently denies it, clamoring to her that “it doesn’t exist.” If the fact that von Trier rattles you with a faux stellar occurrence doesn’t prove he’s not having fun with “Antichrist,” then maybe having a mutilated talking fox saying “chaos reigns” would do the trick.

If there’s a keen observation in “Antichrist,” it’s that von Trier forays into horror, (the most exploitive genre next to porn) to uncover his most remote obsessions as an artist. Von Trier is free to explore the dynamics of female-male relationships with the combatant trenches of sex and finger-pointing. Many say that von Trier puts his leading ladies through a gauntlet, hiding his sexist themes with a sliver lining of self-sacrifice. Maybe so, but how many filmmakers are willing to feature the grueling obstacles women face in a testosterone-driven world? “Antichrist” will have film buffs and intellectuals debating the value of von Trier’s absurdist plunge into terror. For this humble reviewer, “Antichrist” is von Trier’s grotesque and expunging confession.


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Antichrist2009Lars von TrierLars von TrierCharlotte Gainsbourg, Willem Dafoe  Antichrist2009Lars von TrierLars von TrierCharlotte Gainsbourg, Willem Dafoe  Antichrist2009Lars von TrierLars von TrierCharlotte Gainsbourg, Willem Dafoe  Antichrist2009Lars von TrierLars von TrierCharlotte Gainsbourg, Willem Dafoe  Antichrist2009Lars von TrierLars von TrierCharlotte Gainsbourg, Willem Dafoe 

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