Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Antichrist



I really want to recommend this film for its originality in storytelling, but it is very difficult to do so. Love blood and gore? Death of children? Dead Fetuses? Unnatural treatment to sexual organs? Creepy forest animals? Well hold on to your hat, how I've got a treat for you!

Lars van Trier is not new to making feature films, as his first one was made in 1984. Despite this, Antichrist, his latest feature, is the first film of his that I've seen. But my God, if this is any representation of what the rest of his films are like, I am very frightened. Van Trier's film company also produces pornographic films, and let me just say this film shows it; Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, the film's two stars, are not camera shy, to say the least. The opening scene gives you a good taste of what is to follow: it is a cross between a sex scene and the unacknowledged death of the couple's child. There is a close-up during this sex scene which has scarred me for life, but I do not have the heart to describe it to you. Regardless, I will never look at Dafoe the same way again. Ironically, this is probably the best scene in the film, because although it contains arguably graphic content, it is very beautifully shot. Van Trier attempts to make the entire film shot in such a beautiful way, and he debatably succeeds. However, it is not enough to cover up the fact that the story itself is as strange and confusing as it is graphic. The film is divided between a prologue, three chapters, and an epilogue, and each part is weirder than the last.

After the death of the child, the wife (who's name is never mentioned) slowly, yet increasingly goes frantic and insane throughout the film. The husband (also a no-name), a therapist, doesn't trust the medical treatments she has been given and takes it upon himself to help her. But he doesn't. In fact, she doesn't just get severely depressed or sad, she goes absolutely bonkers by the third chapter. Exactly why she does is entirely debatable. At first, it seems obvious that the death of her son simply had a worse than usual effect on her; but as the story unfolds it is hinted she was hitting the deep end way before he died, as she has been, and continues to be compulsively obsessed with gynocide. As this is going on with her, the husband is having his own problems. Wherever he goes, mother nature seems to be playing games with him. He runs into three animals, who are each uniquely strange and creepy, and his attacked by ticks and acorns (yes, acorns). However, this seems to have very little effect on him, if at all. It's only when his wife finally goes over the edge when he finally becomes afraid for his life. Again, I am afraid to speak of why he begins to fear his life, as I am getting the urge to take a cold shower at the very thought of it. Van Trier has essentially made a pornographic horror movie, and attempts to cloak it as beautiful imagery. The problem is he leaves very little to the imagination; there is no "hint" of what has happened or what till happened. It just happens right in front of your eyes whether you like it or not, no matter how graphic it is. Every graphic thing I have described so far is not only directly shown to you, but it is also zoomed in for extra detail. Have you ever been to a driver's ed class, where you watched a video of a car crash, and just as you expect the camera to cut to, uh, something other than the crash, you instead watch bloody skulls getting crushed and body parts flying through the windshield and onto the pavement? Van Trier probably shot that.

Trailer:

Lars von Trier's Antichrist - Official Trailer from Zentropa on Vimeo.