EIFF 09: Antichrist
Antichrist is neither as amoral and obscene as conservative critics would claim, or as misogynistic as feminist groups would have you believe. What it is however, is a dark, oppressive and sometimes powerful examination of grief and guilt mixed with extreme horror. It demands your attention from the start but tends to get lost in the occasional graphic scenes and symbolism which are often frustratingly oblique and heavy-handed by turns.
When a couple loses their child in a tragic accident, the mother (Charlotte Gainsbourg in a difficult role) goes in to a deep bout of grief. Concerned by the medication supplied by her doctor, her psychotherapist husband (Willem Dafoe as watchable as always) decides that he could better treat her himself without the aid of drugs. Retreating to their summer home deep in the woods, the therapy sessions, rather than cure, unravel some disturbing truths with horrific results.
Lars Von Trier was supposedly suffering a severe bout of depression during the filming of Antichrist and perhaps that has contributed towards the black tone and detours in to the surreal present throughout. In spite of this surreal direction, the cinematography by Slumdog Millionaire's Anthony Dod Mantle is first rate; from the monochrome bookends, to the etherial ultra slow-mo dream sequences, the film never looks less than stunning.
Antichrist is a difficult film and certainly not for everyone but it is another mark in Lars Von Triers quest to push the envelope of filmmaking for better or worse and if you have the stomach for it, worth investigating.
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