Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Antichrist (2009)

We're at the midway point of WTF week and I'm going to talk about one of the biggest WTF movies of recent vintage, Lars Von Trier's Antichrist. This is a film that marched across the world via film festivals until it hit the 2009 New York Film Festival where a screening had to be stopped because someone in the audience had a medical emergency. Talking to one of the people from the festival while waiting to go into one of my screenings (of a different film) I was told that there were a large number of walk outs, numerous heated arguments and a general feeling that the audience wanted to take a shower.

Yea, its that sort of a film.

Actually its probably unendurable in its graphic and psychic cruelty toward people. I've seen it twice, more or less reluctantly and to be perfectly honest, I never need to see it again.

(The following synopsis may make you queasy- so you may want to skip it)

The plot of the film has a married couple having sex (graphically) one snowy night. While they are engaged their infant falls out a window and falls to his death (graphically). The parents are both over come with grief. The man, a therapist, feels he knows best how best to help his wife and they retreat to a cabin in the woods where a fox talks. The relationship deteriorates and it isn't long before the psychic and emotional violence they have been inflicting on each other amps up to physical violence in ways that involve genitals, power tools, shears and grinding stones (all graphical). It then ends with a real WTF moment.

(End queasy inducing synopsis)

At this point you're probably wondering why I would recommend this film to anyone. Basically because I'm not sure what to make of the film.

I'm not sure if Von Trier is playing a joke on everyone. He loves to play jokes on audiences, to the point I never know if he's just having a goof. Then again many people have said that this was conceived and made at a dark period in his life and that unlike his other films he's very serious about this one. Its a long pained shriek into the heart of god and mankind. Its darkness made light.

Its also damn near unendurable. Its two hours of some of the nastiest emotional cruelty between two people ever put on film. Why would any one want to see people being this nasty to each other? I don't know.

Some people have found great meaning in it all.

I have no idea, but its the sort of movie that I can't dismiss out of hand. And its the fact that I can't dismiss this film is the reason that I'm writing this film up. There just might be something inside the cruelty that shines some sort of light into dark places.

You'll have to figure this one out for yourself. If you have a strong constitution feel free to look into the abyss.

And keep this far away from the kids.

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