Monday, October 12, 2009


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!


  1. This movie is disturbing, and disturbingly bad. I was lured by the pornographic poster (a nice foreign mid summer afternoon cinematic mother nature mud fuck flick? how could this go wrong?) and the anonymous preview quote "the most disturbing film I've ever seen at Cannes," which is actually probably true. The opening scene, the much advertised "non-simulated sex" scene, best part of the film. Too bad it becomes bad porn as soon it tries to be a real movie, you know, when the characters start talking and there's supposed to be a plot or compelling characters development. Lars knows how to shoot scenes, Lars does not know how to make a film. Some of the scenes are painterly, at times Cindy Sherman surreal, at times Francis Bacon gory, and times David Lynch kitch. Congrats on that Lars, A Plus for visual artistry. But the rest of the time, which is the rest of the time, you're being subjected to a third grader's understanding of storytelling. Lars feels he must put giant neon signs on everything to make sure you don't miss his point. He sends a couple to the woods. "NATURE METAPHOR" "NATURE METAPHOR". He then calls the woods Eden. "BIBLICAL METAPHOR," "BIBLICAL METAPHOR." The whole time William Defoe is trying to tame her psychosis. 'MAN'S NATURE IS TO TAME NATURE," and all Charlotte Gainsbourgh wants to do is fuck, him, the trees, herself, anything. WOMAN's NATURE IS UNTAMED WILDNESS. In case you were lost by all the subtleties, and you weren't getting the general drift of the film, Lars actually has a coyote break character, and say in an evil voice, in English, "chaos reigns." This then cues UNTAMED WOMAN to follow her NATURE in her BIBLICAL state to become EVIL and destroy MAN. This she does by physically breaking William Defoe's dick and then, just in case any of the metaphors got lost on you, Lars has her stuff a grindstone into his leg. MAN IS THE TAMER OF NATURE, BUT MAN CANNOT TAME WOMAN, BECAUSE WOMAN IS EVIL, EVER SINCE EDEN, THIS IS HER NATURE. Just imagine a caveman voice narrating the scenes, clubbing you over the head with "METAPHORS FOR IMPORTANT IDEAS THAT ARE VERY IMPORTANT," that's Lars, talking to you through his cinematic language. And of course these important ideas justify the cutting off of a clitoris with rusty scizzors, fucking against a tree stump, masterbating in the mud, talking coyotes, and the breaking of an erect cock with a two by four, the oversimplification of women and men, the oversimplification of the biblical story of Eden, the oversimplification of man's relationship to nature, man's relationship to woman, and woman's relationship to god and the mystical powers of being a giver of life. The whole thing felt like a farce: a really crappy movie masquerading behind the facade of Art. It simultanously fails to be a good porn, a good horror film, or a good thriller. Most distrubing film I ever seen, but not because of the violence. Here's a NATURE METAPHOR: This film is crap on a stick. Lars, you got women's issues. Seek help. And maybe take some scriptwriting classes. --Oliver