Magnificent direction of Lars Von Trier. The performances by Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe dispense comments. The film photography is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. Complex, disturbing, full of symbolism, reflections and interpretations. Perfect.
All at once brave, horrible, daring, savage, repellent, and incredible.
A husband and wife (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) suffer a devastating tragedy in the death of their young son, and travel to a secluded cabin in the woods to face both their grief and their fear. There, all emotional facades are torn away, horrible secrets are revealed, and the proverbial shit hits the fan.
There's really no other way to say it. The shit hits the fan. Terrible, horrific things happen in this film. Things you probably don't ever want to see. When the Prologue of a movie features a toddler doing a slow-motion swan-dive from a six-storey window to the accompaniment of classical music, you know we're definitely not playing around in the realm of fairy tales.
It really is a shame when a film like this appears with such a burst of publicity, because filmgoers inevitably end up seeing it for the wrong reasons. Anyone seeing it for its inherent (and much-touted) 'shock value' will be mostly disappointed. Though it has some truly shocking moments, they are far less titillating than they are swollen with pure human misery, and in most other respects this is actually a rather slow-paced film. Likewise, any artsy film enthusiast who might enjoy the poetry and symbolism of 'Antichrist' will probably skip it for fear of it being yet another 'Saw' knock-off.
This film would actually be a brilliant exploration of the stages of grief... if those stages happened to be guilt, blame, self-loathing and explosive brutality. And perhaps breaking free of the predictable way we tend to categorize the human experience is exactly the point the director is hoping to make here. Perhaps we don't all grieve the same way. Perhaps even psychology, as represented by Dafoe's well-intentioned but ineffectual character, is only worthy of ridicule. Isn't the image of his character standing in an endless rain of nuts shrewdly suggestive of his own mental state?
Nevertheless, it would be unfair to belittle in any way the work of the actors in this film. In all but a few short scenes featuring depersonalized (and, literally, faceless) extras, the screen belongs to Dafoe and Gainsbourg, and they both pull off performances that would easily win an Oscar if this film were more mainstream and less controversial.
‘Antichrist’ is a remarkable film. It is a volatile jumble of both the beatific and the miserific. Sometimes coexisting in the very same shot. Because we are dancing in the realm of the subconscious, the proto-symbolic touchstones in this film seem alien and otherworldly. A philosophical fox? A stillborn deer? A seemingly immortal crow? None of these images are found in our typical Judeo-Christian symbolic dictionary, and they're not meant to be. As such, none of them seem to mean anything to the viewer. But in the context of the film, they are loaded with meaning. In fact, so ancient and time-worn in the film's universe is this symbolic animal triumvirate that they even appear in the night sky as constellations.
So rich in the proto-symbolic is this film that critics have suggested that von Treir hoped to create his own theology. This may be the case, as he names the property in the woods 'Eden', and casts Charlotte Gainsbourg as a sort of proto-Eve.
But these Christian references are, I think, misleading. In one scene, Gainsbourg discovers her son in a cabin, playing with a piece of wood in a pose evocative of paintings of the young Christ in his father's workshop. This would appear to suggest the classic Christian motif of the redemptive suffering of the cross. And yet, later in the film, the woman employs that very same piece of wood in an attempt to obliterate the sexuality of her husband.
Similarly, the woman tells the man that nature is "Satan's church." If this is the case, and in the film's universe it certainly seems to be, then the geographical location of their cabin in the woods is far closer to Hell than it is to Eden.
it will shock you, unsettle you, and make you feel uncomfortable 80% of the time, but that's what the movie is going for. it looks amazing, visually, though, and the performances are amazing.
Two badly bad movies a day is just too much.
May be it's connected to religion and people who are religious can understand that, but it beats me personally.