Antichrist

Depending on your reaction to the cinematic outrages perpetrated by Danish director Lars von Trier (remember Dogville?), you might want to add or subtract two from the halfway (half-assed?) rating I just gave Antichrist. At film festivals from Cannes to New York, audiences at Antichrist who don't hoot, holler or throw things tend to walk out in a huff.

That'll happen, I guess, when a movie begins with a therapist (Willem Dafoe) and his wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg) fucking like rabbits while their toddler (unseen by them) falls out a window to his death. It gets worse when the couple retreat to a woodsy cabin, ostensibly to heal. The wife, like a force of pissed-off Mother Nature, indulges in genital mutilation on hubby and herself. What to say? The images will singe your eyeballs. Dafoe and Gainsbourg, who won the Best Actress prize at Cannes, fill the screen with ferocity and feeling. But von Trier is royally screwing with us, especially when an animatronic fox confronts Dafoe in the wilderness andnnounces that "chaos reigns." Like we needed a fox to tell us that. Von Trier says he was suffering from severe bouts of depression when he shot the movie. See Antichrist, and you'll know the feeling.

From The Archives Issue 135: May 24, 1973
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