Last night I saw an IFC sneak preview of Lars Von Trier's newest film "Antichrist".
The film feels like an excorcism of collective demons and suppressed rage, sexuality, and grief. There are some firsts in this film which in 2009 is a rare thing, but I have never before seen a woman cut off her own clitoris with a rusty pair of scissors.
There are so many layers to this film but at it's foundation is a couple whose child falls out of a window to his death at the very moment of their orgasm. So in essence for Charlotte Gainsbourgh's character her sexual climax is from that moment forward tied into the grief of her son dying. So SEX and DEATH are connected at said clitoris which she then of course has to cut off because she is unable to deal with the pain.
"Nature is Satan's church" she says in the film. But in the film "nature" is also human nature.
Willem Dafoe in a role playing game with her asks Gainsbourgh "Are you affraid that nature is going to kill you?"...What nature is Von Trier refering to?
Throughout the film Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourgh take turns taking on the role of Antichrist, however the film's title has a female symbol as the final T in Antichrist. So clearly this is somehow a meditation on women as both Villain and Victim.
Charlotte Gainsbourgh's performance is pretty mind blowing and she definitely goes places that few women have dared to go on the silver screen. She spends at least a fourth of the film with her genitals exposed. She is a brave and fearless actress. A badass.
I left the theatre feeling a strange mixture of being creeped out to the bone and also super inspired and impressed with Von Trier's as a filmmaker. He dedicated the film at the end to Andrei Tarkovsky, one of my heroes. Even though the two directors on the surface could not be any differrent, at their essence, there is fundamentally an uncompromising devotion there and both men have a love for the language of cimena. And as much as Von Trier loves to be the provacatour there are moments in this film that belong with the greats. Moment of cinematic poetry that make the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up and make your skin crawl at the same time.
There is something to celebrate in a film that makes people vomit and have seisures etc. (which has reportedly happenned at screenings of this film). There is something about a film that actually illicits a physical reaction from it's viewers that we must appreciate. It makes film kind of a dangerous thing. And this film is very much about facing our deepest fears. So the act of seeing this film is part of it's point.
I am still not sure what I think of what Lars has to say about women and I am sure his mother was not very nice to him but I will always go see his films. I just might not be able to see them more then once. But that is kind of amazing. It makes his films more like a performance or a living breathing thing. In this case one that is ejaculating blood!