Antichrist (Lars Von Trier, 2009)
*** (A Must-See)
Grief, Pain, Despair. The films divided chapter titles perfectly describe the mood of Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist staring Charlotte Gainsbourg (who won a best actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for her performance) and Willem Dafoe (The Spider Man Series, Wild At Heart). The story follows a married couple who go to their woodland cottage “Eden” to bereave the death of their son. The isolated shack, its surrounding forestscape, and the superstitious bad weather do not become a retreat of solace but instead an unsuspecting battleground, his psychotherapist "rational thought” is put against her occult mysticism.
The Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier is one the most daring and cutting edge world filmmakers. The films handheld shots (hawking back to the Dogme95 movement), image distortions, incorporation of digital technology, uncanny editing, and the overall creativity and originality of the film can be both exasperating and stunning.
Though primarily chilling and atmospheric the interlaced irony provides moments of levity. After arriving to Eden the couple is kept up by the comic clanking of fallings acorns on the roof of the cabin. When the mother overcomes one of her first psychiatric challenges a dead bird infested with ants falls from a tree and then is torn apart by a crow. Everything culminates into a devastating self-sacrifice.
This is not your typical horror film. Though there are some surface similarities between it and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) including; the continental secluded setting and the eroding consciousness shown through a journal, it is the spellbinding mixture of misanthropy, sarcasm, and sadomasochism that makes Antichrist so hard to forget.-David Davidson
(Bytowne Cinema, 324 Rideau Street, 05/02 - 09/02) & (The Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank Street, 24/02 & 25/02)