Skip to main content

Antichrist - a film by Lars von Trier

Antichrist
Written & directed by Lars von Trier
Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg & Willem Dafoe
Opens November 13 in Toronto, Vancouver & Montreal, currently in limited release in the U.S.

Lars von Trier's film Antichrist opens for public consumption having been much discussed and debated in the months since its premiere at Cannes in May. If you've read anything at all about it, you'll know that it tells the story of a couple's attempts to come to terms with their grief after the death of their son. Even the publicity synopsis tells you they do so by retreating to eden, being the name of their cabin in the woods, and that things "go from bad to worse" as indeed they do.

The film is visually beautiful in a way that's quite arresting, both in the earlier interior scenes that are shot very close to the characters and in the mythic quality of the outdoor scenes in the woods. Graphic sex scenes are visceral as well as poetic. Gainsbourg and Dafoe are on screen, together or separately, literally 100% of the time, and both turn in an acting tour de force that captures the nuances of coupledom - from Dafoe's controlling and somewhat arrogant therapist to Gainsbourg's portrayal of a woman who's simply been torn in two in all the shades and variations of grief - and their journey to hell to perfection.

The problem with the film, I think, is Von Trier himself, who overloads the story with heavy handed symbolism and allegory, to the point where you know exactly what's coming at every turn. In the opening scene, the "prologue", the unnamed couple have sex while their adorable moppet gets himself out of his crib and stumbles towards the open window, beside which there is a coffee table, and on which there are three charming figurines called "grief", "despair", and "pain". Guess what happens? The body of the film is, in fact, divided into three more sections entitled Grief, Pain (Chaos Reigns), and Despair (Gynocide), (followed by a brief epilogue). Dafoe encounters a fox eating its own entrails who tells him "chaos reigns!" and a doe with a stillborn infant hanging from her nether regions. Gainsbourg mentions that her now abandoned thesis research found an account of three sisters who could make it hail... then later it hails... and the thesis was about gynocide, or the killing of women... and the title Antichrist, which you'll see within a few seconds of the film's beginning, has an "o" over the "t", you know, making it that Venus symbol... See what I mean? Can you guess what happens?

I realize all that was supposed to add another layer to what really amounts to a fairly simple story, but rather than add, it detracts from the aforementioned gorgeous visuals and fine acting and, to my view, bled the piece of any real sense of drama - a story about the corrosive nature of grief that left me completely cold emotionally. Surely it's possible to be an artiste and use symbolism and allegory to add a mythic layer to the film with a defter touch? A little subtlety? To let the story tell itself and just get out of the way most of the time?

Is it worth seeing? Yes, for the stunning cinematography of Anthony Dod Mantle, and the acting chops of Dafoe and Gainsbourg. I didn't mind the graphic sexuality or violence (or the graphic sexual violence,) and in contrast to many critics, I also didn't find it particularly misogynistic or shocking. What I thought was that it was overly self conscious of its own sense of artistry, to the detriment of the piece as a whole. You can check out the trailer here.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Film News - imagineNATIVE Embargo Collective at the Berlin Film Fest

Hot Off the Presses:
(and gosh, doesn't that expression sound quaint these days?)

imagineNATIVE’s EMBARGO COLLECTIVE
to have its European Premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival 2010
(Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin 11.-21.02.10)

(Toronto, February 3rd, 2010) The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is pleased to announce the official selection of the festival’s Embargo Collective programme for the Forum Expanded section of this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. This programme of works was commissioned by the imagineNATIVE festival for its 10th anniversary and will have its European premiere Monday, February 15th, 8.30pm at Cinema Arsenal 2 and a repeat screening Wednesday, February 17th, 4pm at CinemaxX 6.

Curated by imagineNATIVE’s Artistic Director Danis Goulet, the Embargo Collective is an international group of seven Indigenous artists at the forefront of the changing global landscape of Indigenous cinema. Inspired by Lars von Trier’s The Five Obstructi…

Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company Spring 2013 Toronto Performances

From a media release:

The new season brings
Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company
to new heights and new audiences

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
April 25-28, 2013 - Annual Toronto Season - World Premiere of Portales

TORONTO : Following on the heels of Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company's (EESDC) 30th anniversary year where its production Aguas/Waters was named one of the top five dance shows of 2012 by NOW Magazine, the early months of 2013 are full of excitement and possibility for Esmeralda and the company, which brings the finest flamenco and Spanish Classical Dance to Toronto stages.

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
Company dancers Esmeralda Enrique and Paloma Cortés perform Spanish Classical dance with the celebrated Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir for A Night in Madrid featuring the Iberian flavoured music of composer Luigi Boccherini who made his home in Spain. His work is infused with the sounds of Spanish and gypsy folk music.

March 20-24 …

Guitar Rock | Happy Freuds - Echo Of Sounds Independent: May 31, 2019

Guitar Rock
Happy Freuds - Echo Of Sounds
Independent: May 31, 2019
Stream/Buy on Bandcamp
Stream it on Spotify

With tight musicians and intriguing lyrics, Happy Freuds delivers high energy guitar rock with stylistic flair on Echo Of Sounds, their debut release. Produced with a minimum of overdubs or fixes, the album consists of a mix of original material, rearrangements of works from others and selected, less known, classic rock.

A kinetic rhythm section is the bones of the music, offering interesting patterns that augment sometimes unexpected harmonic changes. It's brainy rock, in other words, meant for music lovers who can appreciate the quality. Teo's vocals are raspy and expressive, growly when necessary - perfect for the musical mode. Teo also covers lead guitar, adapt at ear worm leads, with a tone that can be clean or dirty as required

Their sound ranges from straight up hard rock in tracks like The Mountain to the pop-flavoured acoustic Background Noise and folky To …